New research and innovation ecosystems are emerging in the area of quantum technology, which holds a great potential for society and industry. World-leading high-tech corporates and strong technical universities and research organisations characterise Southern Germany. With Industry 4.0 as a driver, quantum technology is part a new wave pushing innovation forward in a production industry landscape under heavy transformation.
Whereas the technological focus is broad and includes all main quantum research areas (computing, communication, sensing, simulation), the two South German states, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, which both hold leading high-tech industrial companies, have a strong focus on potential application areas of quantum technology.
In the case of Bavaria, a quantum technology roadmap, identifying quantum research competence centres and areas of industrial application of quantum technology, has already been developed. Furthermore, research and innovation networks, supporting the value chain from research to application, are already in place. This includes an innovation cluster, ThinkNet Quantentechnologie that specifically supports the Bavarian industry in relation to quantum technology application.
Southern Germany is home to some of the leading research environments in quantum technology.
Examples in Bavaria are the two top universities in Munich, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität (LMU) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) respectively. They have joined forces in the Munich Centre for Quantum Science and Technology (MCQST) Excellence Cluster. Other key Munich players are the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics and the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre. The latter has received funding for new quantum computers and for integrating quantum computing into supercomputing, through its Quantum Integration Center (QIC).
Already in 2014, the University of Stuttgart, Ulm University, and the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research established the Center for Integrated Quantum Science and Technology (IQST).
Since 2021, Baden-Württemberg has hosted one of Europe’s most powerful quantum computers. The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (IAF) in Freiburg hosts a Competence Center for Quantum Computing. The University of Stuttgart has a Centre for Applied Quantum Technology (ZAQuant), which includes a 3000 m2 research building for quantum experiments. Furthermore, Baden-Württemberg hosts a research and innovation cluster on Quantum Sensors (QSens) with both public and private partners involved.
It is still early days for the commercial use of quantum, but some industries are closer to deriving value from quantum computing than others. According to a McKinsey report, these industries are pharmaceuticals, chemicals, automotive and finance. All of which are strong industries in Southern Germany. Leaders in these industries have realised that they need to understand the risks, disruptions and opportunities. Quantum is now part of their strategy and companies such as Roche, BMW, and BASF have in-house quantum experts and engage with the ecosystem on exploring industrial use cases of quantum.
For Southern Germany, due to the strong focus on Industry 4.0, it is particularly interesting to explore how logistics, processes and production can be optimised by use of quantum technology. In relation to future mobility, quantum technology could for example improve route optimisation.
An example of a university-industry partnership in this area is the collaboration between BMW Group and TUM. In June 2021, BMW established an endowed professorship in “Quantum Algorithms and Applications” and created a fund of EUR 5.1M available to TUM for the professorship, equipment and personnel.
Below is an attempt to characterize the quantum technology ecosystems in Southern Germany on five perspectives:
Quantum technology is a focus area of both Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. In Baden-Württemberg, quantum technology is defined as a key technology in the state’s innovation strategy and is one of the focus areas for research funding.
Quantum technology is one of the key technology areas supported heavily by the research and investment plan of Bavaria, Hightech-Agenda Bayern. This has led to the creation of the Munich Quantum Valley, which was launched in February 2022.
With a public investment of EUR 300M in the years 2021 to 2025, the Hightech Agenda Bayern promotes Quantum Sciences and Quantum Technologies in Bavaria, as a hub between research, industry, funders, and the public. The Munich Quantum Valley has established a setup that supports the full value chain from basic research to industry as well as start-up support.
Some German corporates invest heavily in quantum technology (e.g. in in-house expertise and through endowed professorships). A number of large industry players have joined forces in QUTAC - Quantum Technology & Application Consortium.
It is still too early to say how SMEs are integrating and using quantum technology. However, the new Bavarian cluster, Thinknet Quantentechnologie, aims to support in particular SMEs with the uptake of quantum technology.
Germany, and especially Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, is home to leading technical universities as well as research and technology organisations, such as the Fraunhofer and Max Planck Institutes which have strong research competences within quantum technology. Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich (LMU) and Technical University of Munich (TUM) are among the top institutions within quantum research and innovation.
Furthermore, both states host some of the best computing ‘hardware’, including some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers and they invest in quantum computing. The hosts include the Quantum Integration Centre at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre in Munich, and the IBM Quantum System One quantum computer at Fraunhofer operated in Ehningen close to Stuttgart.
It is still early days and we have yet to see a real start-up ecosystem within quantum technologies. However, with the Hightech-Agenda Bayern, we see some activity in this area. TUM Venture Lab Quantum (a joint initiative of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the entrepreneurship centre, UnternehmerTUM) has been created as part of the Munich Quantum Valley.
Both at federal and state level (Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg) there is public funding available for research and innovation projects within quantum technology. However, most programmes are only available for German/Bavarian/Baden-Württemberg based organisations.
Please reach out to Ulrik Kjølsen Olsen, Research Attaché, Innovation Centre Denmark – Munich: firstname.lastname@example.org for any inquiries. We offer our services to corporates, SMEs and academic partners looking to dive further into the area of quantum technology.
Links to further information:
Quantum technology in Bavaria: this promising field is being promoted more intensively (invest-in-bavaria.com)
Quantum Technology | University of Stuttgart (uni-stuttgart.de)
Munich Quantum Valley Europas nye smørhul for kvanteforskere (ufm.dk)
Bringing Quantum Computing toScientist’s Work: Leibniz-Rechenzentrum (lrz.de)