German federal government’s road map for quantum computing has a clear target: within the next 10 years, Germany and European partners must be in a position to build and operate a fully functional quantum computer. This is a reflection of the major potential of this technology and its importance for industry and science. Quantum computers will be able to solve highly complex tasks in a wide variety of areas. For example, they can help manufacturers optimize their production processes, the pharmaceutical industry to develop new active ingredients, and catering companies to precisely calculate their purchasing requirements. In the ranking with other countries, Germany’s development of a quantum computer would therefore further strengthen its standing as a location for cutting-edge technology. A project consortium led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO is now exploring this potential in greater depth and seeking to develop applications for a use of quantum computing in industry. The project is known as SEQUOIA, which stands for “software engineering of industrial, hybrid quantum applications and algorithms.”
Identify requirements to enable commercial exploitation
The key goals of SEQUOIA are to investigate, develop and trial new methods, tools and procedures in the field of quantum computing with a view to enabling a future use in industry of hybrid quantum applications and algorithms. In particular, this work will focus on three areas:
- The creation of an application center for quantum computing
Demonstrable applications and algorithms are to be developed for use in fields such as manufacturing, development, industrial robotics, industrial logistics, energy, finance, mobility and health care.
- The development of a suite of software components
How might conventional systems and quantum computers work together? The development of software components for hybrid quantum applications and algorithms could well provide the answer here.
- The development of a SEQUOIA model for quantum software engineering
What is the software lifecycle for hybrid quantum applications? What processes and best practices are available for the development, test and operation phases?
The project is based on a Q System One quantum computer provided by IBM, together with other quantum computers via the cloud. The Fraunhofer Competence Center Quantum Computing Baden-Württemberg, a joint initiative with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, provides a platform for applied research into the next generation of high-performance computers. Its resources include the requisite technical facilities, know-how in IBM-related applications, in-house clusters for simulation and software development, training courses and suitable premises.
“The purpose of the project is to build up the know-how required to characterize the various fields of application, to systematically evaluate areas of potential and to devise customized solutions,” explains Falko Kötter, project manager and research associate at Fraunhofer IAO. “In addition, we want to help establish Baden-Württemberg in the public eye as a location for research and development in quantum computing.”
Information event: “Quantum computing – from research to commercial applications”
At the project’s kick-off event on March 2, 2021, participants will receive information on the opportunities offered by quantum computing and how companies can help exploit this potential by taking an active part in the SEQUOIA project. Here, companies can try out potential applications within their own enterprise and, in so doing, help shape the future development of this technology. At the same time, there will be information on training and networking opportunities, which are designed to bring together companies with an interest in quantum computing and to foster dialog between them.
The Baden-Württemberg State Ministry of Economics, Labor and Housing has provided funding of 19 million euros for the SEQUOIA project and five other joint research projects at the Fraunhofer Competence Center Quantum Computing Baden-Württemberg.
Alongside Fraunhofer IAO, the remaining project partners are Fraunhofer IPA, Fraunhofer IAF, the University of Stuttgart, the University of Tübingen, the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, and stakeholders from business. Other associated partners and multipliers such as the digital technology association Bitkom will help ensure a smooth transfer to industry and science.