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Quantum computing is forcefully moving from labs to markets

Associate Professor Nina Granqvist leads an Academy of Finland research project that studies the market emergence around quantum computing in real time.
Associate Professor Nina Granqvist. Photo: Aalto University / Jaakko Kahilaniemi
Associate Professor Nina Granqvist. Photo: Aalto University / Jaakko Kahilaniemi

Nina Granqvist, What do you find as the most interesting aspects in your study?

Quantum computing is still in a very early stage with scientists in universities and companies solving bottlenecks in technology and searching for most suited application areas. The devices today underperform classical computers in almost every aspect – but have a major future potential.

By making use of quantum-mechanical phenomena quantum computing promises “double-exponential” speed-ups in information processing. This will enable solving complex problems that are impossible to address with current supercomputers. For example, quantum computers may revolutionize drug discovery by enabling the simulation of large molecules, and allow breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Quantum computing also poses substantial threats as it will eventually enable breaking the current encryption systems.

For these reasons we have seen a bit of a geopolitical armaments race of public investments. Also, all major technology companies invest in this area, and there are dozens of hardware and software start-ups. The market development is in a very early phase, however, and it is unclear which technologies win and what kinds of applications there might be, and when. For someone interested in the emergence of markets, this is a fascinating setting.

When can we expect some results from your study?

We already have some early publications out, for example, looking into how consultants create markets for knowledge around quantum computing, and how scientists make quantum computing understandable for publics.

The analysis of our main data will take time, and several publications are currently under development. Those studies explore the development of business models in start-ups, roadmaps and timing of investments, as well as new forms of collaborations. We publish continuously from the project in the coming years.

Something else?

Finland is the key country in the European ecosystem, and the science originating from Aalto is at the core of the development of quantum computing. For example, Bluefors produces the cryogenic units for the global players, and IQM is a leading European hardware manufacturer.

A continuation of the project is currently on the final round of evaluation for the Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council. Getting that funding is a bit of “a holy grail” and would allow my team to continue this line of research long into future. Thumbs up!

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated on 11 February!

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