Tyndall National Institute calls for Irish centre for quantum tech

23 Sep 2019

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Researchers from Tyndall National Institute say that strengthening Irish quantum research would create a win-win scenario for Ireland in a post-Brexit world.

Researchers at the Tyndall National Institute have said Ireland could still play a major part in the burgeoning quantum technologies market, which is estimated to be worth $15trn by 2030.

In a statement, the researchers said that an Irish quantum centre could create a win-win scenario is a post-Brexit environment.

Dr Georgios Fagas and Dr Emanuele Pelucchi said that, while Ireland has had a slow start, the country is still in a unique position to become internationally competitive if a national centre and programme is established.

Fagas said that with Brexit looming, Ireland has an even greater opportunity to position in quantum technologies and gain a competitive advantage.

“An Irish quantum programme could become a bridge to the UK. There could be a link to UK quantum hubs to maintain knowledge and research exchange despite Brexit. This could be seen favourably by both countries as a win-win,” he explained.

“Strengthening quantum research in Ireland would also mitigate reliance on current UK research partners who are part of our innovation chain for delivering solutions for quantum technologies.”

Investing in disruptive technologies

Fagas and Pelucchi wrote an article, entitled ‘Positioning Ireland for the quantum opportunity’, in which they noted that Ireland is significantly behind nations such as the UK and the Netherlands when it comes to quantum technologies. The researchers pointed out that there is still time for Ireland to catch up, or even exceed international competitors, if the right investment is made soon enough.

They wrote: “Timely investment in such a disruptive technology and complementary skills will maximise Ireland’s opportunity in utilising the current baseline to attract and stimulate substantial business growth.

“Many of Ireland’s higher education institutions have research groups which are either directly involved in research in quantum technologies or their research has potential to converge with quantum technologies in the foreseeable future.

“Tyndall recognises there are demanding scientific and technological challenges to be overcome and short-term expectations are idealistic. Nevertheless, the progress in the last 20 years has been truly exceptional, and quantum technologies have already moved outside the mere academic environment, into the real world.”

They gave the example of quantum cryptographic systems that are available commercially, as well as magnetic sensors based on diamond nitrogen-vacancy centres which are in an advanced development state for biomedical applications.

Tommaso Calarco, author of the Quantum Manifesto that initiated the European Commission’s Quantum Flagship initiative, said that Tyndall’s plan to grow its research activity in the field of quantum technologies was to be welcomed.

He said: “Their position paper enhances previous efforts of the research community to boost the field in Ireland and is very timely as we have been aligning forces, through the quantum technologies flagship to take an ambitious journey that will secure European leadership in the undergoing technological revolution.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic