Analysis: Europe’s quantum sector is poised for massive growth

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The European quantum computing sector might be the most exciting field in tech. Funding is at an all-time high and the number of quantum startups is increasing year over year. Yet the global media tends to portray the EU and UK as potential runners up in the supposed quantum computing race. 

In order to understand Europe’s position in the global quantum computing market we need to roll the clock back a couple years. Investors and entrepreneurs began flocking to quantum during the COVID-19 tech boom and, despite the expected post-pandemic drop off, analysts are predicting a massive increase in market size over the next 5-15 years. However, that optimism is somewhat tempered by the fact that quantum computing is a technology that’s still in its infancy. 

Some scientists believe quantum computers will never be as useful as the companies building them hope. Still others fear developmental delays could lead to a “quantum winter” where investments and research funding freeze up and cause the field to stall. Luckily, those views appear to be in the minority. 

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Industry analysis and peer-reviewed research largely demonstrate that quantum computing is on the verge of having a breakout in Europe similar to the deep learning explosion that started in 2014. And it currently shows no sign of slowing. 

This shouldn’t come as shocking news to anyone. Europe’s where quantum was born. This isn’t a new technology that’s being imported. It’s the continuation of more than a century of work that, essentially, began in Germany.

The first quantum revolution started when German scientist Max Planck published his seminal study on “blackbody radiation” in December of 1900.  A few years later, Planck would assist a young Albert Einstein in refining the theory of relativity that would eventually become part of the bedrock of our understanding of physics today. Simply put: without European scientists, there would be no quantum computing industry to speak of. 

Today, that industry is worth somewhere around €500 million. The comprehensive view, for the EU and UK, involves state funding from nearly every country in Europe, participation from hundreds of academic institutions, and the founding of more than 69 quantum computing-focused startups. But before we dive into those companies and institutions, it’s important to understand why they’re invested in quantum computing. 

max planck