Israel to establish quantum computing R&D center, build quantum computer

Startup Quantum Machines to head new project together with consortium of Israeli and foreign quantum tech companies

Ricky Ben-David is a Times of Israel editor and reporter

Illustrative. An IQM Quantum Computer (Business Wire via AP)
Illustrative. An IQM Quantum Computer (Business Wire via AP)

Israel is moving ahead with plans to lay the foundation for quantum computational ability, which it has said would lead to future developments in economics, technology, security, engineering, and science.

This week, the Israel Innovation Authority announced a budget of NIS 100 million ($29 million) to build a quantum computing research center, headed by Israeli startup Quantum Machines, which will also help build a quantum computer.

Quantum Machines, founded in 2018, has built a hardware and software solution — Quantum Orchestration Platform (QOP) — for operating quantum systems to facilitate research and enable future breakthroughs. It also developed the QUA, a standard universal language for quantum computers that the startup says will allow researchers and scientists to write programs for varied quantum computers with one unified code.

The company already provides quantum computing services to customers in over a dozen countries, including multinational corporations, government laboratories, academic institutions, and quantum development startups. Quantum Machines recently announced a partnership with Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the trading arm of automotive giant Toyota, to build future quantum capabilities and offer the multinational’s Japanese customers access to quantum technologies.

Israel’s new quantum computing center is part of the NIS 1.25 billion ($390 million) Israel National Quantum Initiative, launched in 2018 to facilitate relevant quantum research, develop human capital in the field, encourage industrial projects, and invite international cooperation on R&D.

In February, the Israel Innovation Authority and the Defense Ministry announced that they planned to spend approximately NIS 200 million ($62 million) to develop a state quantum computer and lay the foundation for Israeli computational ability in the field. The NIS 100 million budget is part of this plan.

The Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) will issue a separate tender to finance the development of quantum technologies for military use for another NIS 100 million, the innovation authority said.

Quantum Machines, together with a consortium of Israeli and international quantum tech companies at the center, will build a quantum computer to be made available to the commercial and research communities.

The center will offer access to research and development on three quantum processing technologies — superconducting qubits, cold ions, and optic computes — and provide services to the Israeli quantum computing community, the Israel Innovation Authority said Sunday.

Itamar Sivan, co-founder and CEO of Quantum Machines, said in a company statement the goal of the project was “to give Israeli companies access to the most advanced quantum technologies and services so that they can develop deep quantum expertise across industry and academia. This expertise will allow Israeli companies across a broad range of sectors and industries to gain a leading global position.”

Ami Appelbaum, chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority, said the new center was “the answer to an existing strategic market failure and is part of the authority’s policy of enabling the industry to maintain its leading position at the forefront of breakthrough and disruptive technologies.”

Countries like China, Japan, the US, Germany, and India are also pouring millions into developing their own quantum abilities.

According to recent market projections, the global quantum computing market size is expected to grow from about $470 million in 2021 to about $1.765 billion by 2026.

Quantum computing is a relatively new and extremely complex field, but experts say that the abilities can be extremely beneficial in industries like cybersecurity, materials and pharmaceuticals, banking and finance, and advanced manufacturing, and may lead to massive developments in broad fields like economics, security, engineering, and science.

In a nutshell, quantum computing harnesses quantum mechanics to quickly solve problems that are too complex for classical computers. Quantum computers process exponentially more data compared to classical computers, using quantum bits, or qubits, the basic unit of quantum information.

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