Last Friday in Malta, I received the Intermediate Report from Professor Mlynek, the chair of the High-Level Expert Group on Quantum Technology (QT) Flagship. This was a major milestone towards setting up the QT flagship, which was announced by Commissioner Oettinger last year. The report sets ambitious but achievable goals for the QT Flagship’s ten-year lifetime, and details them for the initial three-year ramp-up phase. The report also presents some options for its implementation, which will be consolidated and presented with a governance model in the final report of the group (due this summer).
We will use this report to prepare the ramp-up phase of the QT flagship. In particular it will help define the first call related to the flagship which will be published this autumn, as part of the Horizon 2020 FET work programme for 2018.
The QT flagship will place Europe at the forefront of QT developments for the years to come, and further builds on existing national and transnational initiatives. It has three major objectives, as outlined in the report:
- Advancing further our scientific leadership and excellence in quantum
- Turning our scientific knowledge into a competitive European quantum industry
- Training the next generation of researchers and engineers who will further develop and use QT in Europe
During this event, Member States presented some new initiatives on quantum technology. Others have already been launched, and they are most welcome! 26 countries are already involved in the QuantERA project to align national priorities and creating further synergies at European level. The Commission is investing roughly €11.5 million in this €40.5 million initiative. This is a first step before the launch of the QT Flagship, at which point complementarities with Member States will need to be further strengthened. The national programmes and transnational activities of Member States, which support research and technology transfer, can cover the gap until the actual start of the QT Flagship.
Flagships are not business as usual. They are not just another research programme like the ones we have been funding in the past. The already running Graphene and Human Brain Project Flagships taught us valuable lessons, as highlighted in the recent Flagship interim evaluation report. I also invite you to read Commissioner Ansip's blog post which highlights the importance of the FET Flagships for investing in our future and their major implications and benefits for society
Flagships are indeed designed to convert scientific advances into concrete innovations that benefit Europe's economy and society. And they need the commitments of all stakeholders: scientists, research institutions, industry, the civil society and public authorities. This is precisely what I see in the Report delivered by the Expert Group: the research and industrial communities working very closely together to define the Flagship's research agenda.
With Flagships, priorities have to be set, decisions made, and results delivered! I am confident that the High-Level Expert Group will address aspects such as the governance and implementation model in its final report due this summer. The final report should also address the challenge of how to strengthen the notion of a coherent Flagship initiative as opposed to a set of individual research projects. The group also needs to define benchmarks to assess progress at the end of the 3-year ramp-up phase and to narrow down future options for technology development.
We will share the final report from the High-Level Expert Group in a Quantum Technology conference in September (details will be published on our Quantum Technology webpage).