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Quantum Technology Strategy Review Interim Report: The government announces measures to strengthen WG industrial competitiveness


The government's working group (chief investigator: Kohei Itoh, president of Keio University) presented the Council for Quantum Technology Innovation with an interim report on the quantum technology strategy review. The final draft was presented to the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation in April, and a decision will be made by the Council regarding Integrated Innovation Strategy Promotion in May. Relevant measures will be included in the FY2023 budget request.

Since the strategy was formulated in 2020, research, development, and commercialization of quantum computers has accelerated overseas, primarily led by private companies. Furthermore, services and technologies that integrate classical computers and quantum computing are also being developed. Meanwhile, the importance of quantum technology is increasing further in terms of carbon neutrality, society DX, security, and so on. Therefore, with the aim of transforming industry and society as a whole through quantum technology (QX: quantum transformation), industry, academia, and government will work together to review the strategy to utilize quantum technology to strengthen industrial competitiveness and resolve social issues.

The interim report outlines three directions to be strengthened: ① incorporate quantum technologies and research results in society; ② establish and spread an environment in which many users can use quantum computers and communications; ③ promote the creation and revitalization of new businesses and startups utilizing quantum technologies. With respect to quantum computers, such computer systems will be developed through integration with conventional computer systems. R&D and basic research will be promoted with an emphasis on breakthroughs, while ensuring supply chains of necessary parts and components. Support will be provided for the creation of organizations such as technology research associations by multiple companies, through taxes and other approaches, and the exchange and collaboration of human resources from companies and universities, to facilitate open innovation across many companies. An environment for the development of social workers, invigorate personnel exchanges with overseas entities is planned to be built, and this will drastically strengthen and accelerate the research and development of quantum computers which is an ambitious goal.

For example, METI is discussing how to formulate the FY2023 budget request to support RIKEN and AIST in establishing facilities within AIST to support industry prototyping and manufacturing. Regarding software, software development will be promoted by improving the environment for the use of quantum computers, integrating it with industries and technologies in other fields, and constructing mechanisms to support idea contests and excellent ideas for discovering new business ideas. Moreover, personnel development systems will be enhanced and expanded by increasing the number of posts at universities and other research organizations and actively accepting human resources from the industry. To stimulate social demand and private investment, information on examples of usage will be disseminated, and consultation services will be established. This will help to further enhance and strengthen national professionals in quantum software.

Looking at quantum security networks, the role of quantum technology in the grand design of future security networks is to be clarified and there will be work to advance guidelines and system improvements for increasing the incentives to use quantum security. Expand and enhancement of open test beds for quantum key delivery (QKD) networks is planned and an increase practical in demonstrations with the participation of a wide range of users will occur. Usage examples of comprehensive quantum security technology that integrates quantum and classical systems shall be found, including the use of post-quantum cryptography (PQC) and secret distribution technology. There will also be launches of national projects relating to quantum internet and development of technology roadmaps. Startup support in the quantum field will be strengthened, including entrepreneurial development, support for matching investors, provision of investment funding, including government-affiliated funds, support for R&D, provision of environments for using quantum computers, establishment of incubation hubs, and business idea contests. The final report will also include enhancement measures for areas not yet addressed, such as quantum sensors.

Focusing on enhancing private investment

According to the Cabinet Office, the government's quantum-related budget will be about 23.2 billion yen in FY2022, which is close to 80 billion yen when the supplementary budget of about 56.2 billion yen is added. Compared with the current fiscal year's budget of about 23.7 billion yen, it is a large increase and is comparable to the budgets of other countries. However, private investment is trailing behind considerably. The current review focuses on how to attract private investment, and a key point will be whether tax reforms and other measures can be discussed concretely in the future.

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd.( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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