Quantum Computing arguably presents the biggest shift in computer science since its inception. After 25 years of fundamental theoretical and experimental research, the top leaders in the field worldwide have committed themselves to the development of quantum computers as a real technology, solving real computational problems. The panelists of this Falling Walls Circle Round Table, leaders in this field for many years, give their expert understanding of the critical issues.

One of these critical issues is the relationship between fundamental science and the private sector. Or rather the question: Should we give access to the potential key technology in the hands of private companies? “We need a very strong relationship, a joint venture, between companies and the public sector”, says Rainer Blatt. “Public funding can only go on for so long, eventually we need a product.”

Quantum Computers can solve computational problems

Piet O. Schmidt agrees. Building a Quantum Computer in order to solve computational problems requires a competitive industry and close relationships on every level. For Schmidt, funding needs to happen in the private sector, with companies providing components, and in the public sector, with institutions funding fundamental research. Similarly, engineers and quantum physicists need to form a strong connection.

Breaking the wall to a quantum aware society, as Frank Wilhelm-Mauch puts it, also requires skilled experts: “Recruiting is a bottleneck, because even with all the money in the world, you can’t buy enough expertise”, Schmidt says. Hence, children, teenagers and students should be made familiar with the world of quantum physics, and sooner rather than later. As the experts predict, the first computational problems in the fields of quantum chemistry, molecule simulation and logistics, will be solved with a Quantum Computer in the coming five years. It is only a matter of time.

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