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Joint EU/Canada quantum research projects

The European Union and Canada announce support for three jointly funded projects in quantum research and innovation.

Flags of the European Union and Canada

Today the European Union (EU) and Canada are announcing three jointly supported research and innovation projects that will support fundamental research in quantum technology.  These quantum research projects will facilitate collaboration between researchers in Canada and the EU. Collectively, these projects gather world-class research teams whose aims are to put quantum technology to work, addressing many technological and societal challenges for the benefit of both EU and Canada, in a way that we could not otherwise achieve separately.

The selected EU-Canada projects, (MIRAQLS -quantum sensing, FoQaCiA -quantum computing, and HYPERSPACE -quantum communications), are co-funded by the EU Quantum Flagship under Horizon Europe, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The three winning projects will share grants of €4million from the EU and close to CAD$5 million in total investments from NSERC over three years.

Research supported through these projects is expected to lead to useful applications in a wide range of fields.  The specific applications for quantum sensing (in the MIRAQLS project) will increase the accuracy of measurements in imaging sensors which could be used in fields as diverse as better precision medicine, to more comprehensive detection of pollutants in the atmosphere, to precisely monitoring traffic flows and congestion. Moreover, the design of quantum algorithms for quantum computing (in the FoQaCiA  project) will go a long way to improving the processing of increasingly large amounts of data needed to solve complex societal and environmental problems, and exploiting high-dimensionally entangled photons (in the HYPERSPACE project) will contribute to ensuring more secure data processing and transmission.

Canada is the first non-EU country with which the EU Quantum Flagship has an international joint call covering quantum research. Canada previously participated in the European Framework Programs for Research such as Horizon 2020, ranking third in number of participations among non-Associated non-EU countries. These partnerships demonstrate the close collaboration between the EU and Canada in research and innovation – cooperation that has been in place since 1996 and which remains a robust cornerstone of this transatlantic friendship. The projects announced today build on this long tradition of collaboration, complementary interests and research expertise in quantum research.  On 9 June 2021, Canada expressed its formal interest to associate with Horizon Europe, which is the closest form of international cooperation with the EU in research and innovation. Informal exploratory talks to this end have been successfully concluded. The formal negotiations will commence in due course. This would be a historic development and an unprecedented opportunity for joint action related to today’s global challenges

Next Steps

Together NSERC and the European Commission will jointly monitor the progress of the EU/Canada quantum research projects and will look to identify additional opportunities for cooperation.  

Quotes

European Commission Director-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology Roberto Viola said:

I warmly welcome this cooperation with our Canadian partners in quantum research and innovation. These projects are the latest iteration in our long-standing, strong and successful history of science, research and innovation collaboration. I very much look forward to the fruits of this joint endeavor and to more and closer cooperation with Canada.

Professor Alejandro Adem, NSERC President affirmed:

Canada is home to world-class quantum researchers and connecting them with peers in Europe builds on years of collaboration and innovation. These new projects in the areas of quantum sensing, communication, and computing, will push the boundaries of quantum technologies to new frontiers and lead the way to new discoveries and breakthroughs. I’m very pleased to help launch these research ventures and look forward to the prospect of more collaborations with our European partners in the future.

Background

 In the EU, R&D in quantum technologies is supported through the Quantum Flagship initiative. It was launched in 2018 as one of the largest and most ambitious research initiatives of the European Union. With a budget of at least €1 billion and a duration of 10 years, the flagship brings together research institutions, academia, industry, enterprises, and policy makers, in a joint and collaborative initiative on an unprecedented scale.

The forthcoming National Quantum Strategy will enable the Government of Canada to build on previous investments in the sector to advance the emerging field of quantum technologies. The quantum sector is key to fuelling Canada’s economy, long-term resilience, and growth, especially as technologies mature and more sectors harness quantum capabilities. NSERC is a key player in these efforts given its unique position to deliver on two fronts – strengthening quantum talent in Canada and fostering national and international research collaborations. This will allow NSERC to contribute to and access world-class knowledge, talent, and expertise in quantum technology while supporting quantum innovation in Canada.