In the southwest of the Stuttgart region, there has been a lot of growth in the past two years – this will continue on in the future, with the development of completely new potential for industry, science and society in Baden-Württemberg. At the end of 2020, the Quantum Village Ehningen network conceived its first initiative with the aim of starting cooperative construction on a quantum technology and artificial intelligence (AI) center at the former IBM site in Ehningen. With the inauguration of the first commercially viable quantum computer in Europe – the IBM Quantum System One – in June 2021, IBM and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft took a significant step towards ensuring the development of expertise and competitional advantages for the region.
This development precedes the implementation of the first on-site pilot use: On April 18, 2023, the Quantum AI Experience & Innovation Center (Q.AX) will open its doors in a ceremony attended by Winfried Kretschmann, the minister-president for Baden-Württemberg. As a center for gaining experiences, collaboration and networking, it not only makes technologies like quantum computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence understandable, but also helps them to come alive. Haji Ajmal Rahmani, CEO and Founder of the Ozean Group, developer of the Quantum Gardens project says that "Q.AX will offer the public, industry and the vibrant Baden-Württemberg technology ecosystem an accessible and communal space to get to know the practical applications of quantum technology, to learn and exchange ideas." The main objective is to use a variety of specific examples to highlight the technology’s potential for transfer to and application in industry. At Q.AX, a variety of training, symposiums, events and co-innovation opportunities are on also offer to promote the transfer of knowledge and the emergence of a local and regional campus ecosystem.
Q.AX combines a world of experience with an innovation lab and networking opportunities
How will quantum computing and AI change our lives in the future? What advantages will companies get from using these technologies? How is Q.AX contributing to the creation of a regional ecosystem? Designed as a way to mix the world of experience with an innovation lab and location for networking, Q.AX helps to answer these questions for society and the economy. As such, the building is split into several areas: Various demonstrators of quantum computing and AI convey the technologies in a clear way – from physical fundamentals in the physics lab to specific use cases in business or the VR lab for an immersive transfer of quantum computing knowledge in 3D, for example. The different creative areas, like co-working and innovation spaces, can help companies develop a deeper understanding, come up with ideas together and test algorithms on quantum computers (simulated or publicly accessible systems). In the future, seminar and conference rooms will be available for events and to offer insight into the current state of research.
Part of a pioneering district development: Quantum Gardens Ehningen
Q.AX was designed as a significant building block in the overall on-site development of the Quantum Gardens Ehningen, which Fraunhofer has been supporting in a scientific capacity since the start of 2022. Plans have been made to reuse and renovate the existing site to create an innovative living-tech campus with a focus on emerging sectors, new modes of living and social and infrastructural research units. Prof. Katharina Hölzle, institute director at Fraunhofer IAO, sees the opening of Q.AX as a magnificent kick-off point for the region: "Innovation requires diversity as well as the involvement of society, science, economy and politics. To this end, Q.AX offers the best conditions for developing international influence that will bring the greatest minds to Baden-Württemberg and Germany."
Quantum Gardens Ehningen, with its mobility and sustainability-related facets, will be developed in an innovative way, fulfil independent and adaptable supply functions and exhibit unique urban, ecologic and architectural qualities. Optimum networking with the center of town also plays a role here, providing added value for companies in the area. For this purpose, the experts from Fraunhofer IAO have developed a strategic vision and the resulting requirements and have designed a new infrastructure concept as well as planning tools. Following the year-long pilot phase, the long-term goal is to cement Q.AX as the first building block in a new ecosystem that will be used in the future to bring businesses, startups and specialists together in the same place. Denis Matokovic the Ozean Group’s Project Manager for Quantum Gardens adds: "Q.AX will be the first of many significant milestones for the development of Quantum Gardens as a unique Live-Work-Play, quantum and AI technology-centric community."
For its level of innovation and its contribution to sustainability and networking, the Q.AX concept has already been awarded third place in the "Creative Spaces Region Stuttgart" competition from the Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart GmbH (WRS) and the Internationalen Bauausstellung 2027 StadtRegion Stuttgart (IBA’27).