Aalto University to coordinate Finnish quantum initiatives in latest national flagship programme
The Research Council of Finland announced on October 24 that it has added the Finnish Quantum Flagship (FQF) to its flagship programme, with funding decisions expected to be announced in January 2024.
Aalto University is the FQF coordinating university, headed by Aalto University Professor and FQF Director Peter Liljeroth. The vice director of FQF is Pekka Pursula, Research Manager at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
‘Quantum technology is expected to revolutionize many areas of science, engineering, and industry from clean energy production to drug design. The flagship enables collaboration across organizations and disciplines and prepares the Finnish society for the quantum era,’ Liljeroth says.
FQF brings together leading quantum experts in physics, computational science, mathematics, nano science and -technology, and economics, to consolidate and expand the national ecosystem, promote cutting-edge research that boosts the emergence of new businesses. The flagship merges cutting edge research in quantum materials, devices, and information, with leading expertise in applications, technology transfer, and market sociology.
‘Quantum technology as a field is in a very exciting phase currently. New solutions to many applications in sensing, communications and computing are reaching the maturity level needed for entering markets, which is also seen in the growing number of start-ups and companies in the field. The flagship aims to support the growth of the company ecosystem by bridging the gap from science and basic research to applications,’ Pursula says.
Key to the ramp-up of FQF is InstituteQ, the Finnish quantum institute that serves as an umbrella collaborative organization between Aalto University, VTT and the University of Helsinki. The efforts of InstituteQ aid in the facilitation of fundamental scientific findings, the adoption of novel technologies, the development of new commercial opportunities, and the provision of front-line education.
‘Since its inception in 2021, InstituteQ has built a clear roadmap for how to coordinate the scaling-up of quantum research, education and business ventures on a national scale. The Finnish Quantum Flagship represents a key step in building a quantum-ready Finland. Accordingly, we must remain vigilant in attracting, training and employing experts of the field—a problem that persists today,’ says InstituteQ Director and Aalto University Professor Jukka Pekola.
As of 2022, there were 550 personnel working on quantum technology in Finnish universities and research institutions, and 460 employees working on quantum technology at Finnish companies. Finland consistently ranks among the top countries in the world for quantum technology development and research output. The cumulative private quantum technology investment in Finland has reached €250 million since 2012.
Other FQF host organizations include the University of Helsinki, the University of Jyväskylä, Tampere University, the University of Oulu, and CSC-IT Centre for Science.
The 2024-31 key objectives of FQF include: Conducting cutting-edge frontier research; promoting the emergence of industrial applications, companies, and business opportunities; education, training, and workforce development; and raising the level of awareness of quantum technologies in industry and society.
The national Quantum Technology Finland (QTF) Centre of Excellence brings together scientific and technological excellence and cutting-edge research infrastructures to harness quantum phenomena in solid-state-based quantum devices and applications.
Aalto University is also involved in three other new flagships of the Research Council of Finland – the flagships of digital water expertise, education, and mathematical imaging and modelling