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February 15, 2022 4:33 pm

Israel Allocates $62 Million to Fund Country’s First Quantum Computer

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

A handout picture from October 2019 shows a component of Google’s Quantum Computer in the Santa Barbara lab, California, U.S. Picture taken in October 2019. Google/Handout via REUTERS

The Israeli government’s innovation arm, together with the country’s defense ministry, has announced a $62 million investment toward building the country’s first quantum computer.

“Quantum computational ability will lay the technological foundation for an Israeli ecosystem that will lead future developments in security, economics, technology, engineering and science,” the Israel Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Research & Development and the Israel Innovation Authority said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The project aims to establish Israel’s independence in the quantum technology sector, which promises to exponentially boost the processing speed of computers. It comes as the US and the European Union are already competing with China to lead the world in quantum developments, with the EU seeking to make its first quantum computer in the next few years.

“Quantum computing is a technology Israeli industry cannot ignore,” stated Israel Innovation Authority CEO Dror Bin. “The industry must develop knowledge and access to infrastructure in which it can develop growth engines for activities in which it will decide to lead.”

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Quantum computers, while not a substitute for classical computers, promise to crunch in seconds vast amounts of data that would take the most powerful conventional machines hours or days to process. They are expected to be especially powerful at solving outstanding problems in chemistry, physics and other areas, by quickly performing simulations, optimizations, and machine learning tasks. They would operate millions of times faster than the current advanced supercomputers, enabling  tasks like the mapping of complex molecular structures and chemical reactions.

“Quantum computing, on all levels, is showing signs of being an important future component of the state’s security and its technological superiority,” said Dr. Danny Gold, Head of the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Research & Development. “Starting this process in the framework of the national program constitutes a significant step towards achieving Israeli independence in this area.”

The funding announced Tuesday will be allocated along two parallel tracks. The Israel Innovation Authority will focus on building a quantum computational infrastructure for running calculations, to help test existing algorithms and for research across software and hardware. The will ultimately be integrated with quantum processors and technologies developed in Israel.

Separately, the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Research & Development will create a “national center” with quantum capabilities, to work closely with academia, industry, and government to advance a quantum processor, including hardware, control, optimization, algorithmics and interfacing aspects. The end goal is to develop a fully-fledged quantum computer, the statement read.

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