By Joe PicklesNov 22 2022
India has been quick to embrace the new wave of quantum technologies and is proving itself on an international level. With targeted government investment into quantum research, universities and businesses across India are establishing quantum computing departments. Many successful startups have appeared in recent years, all hoping to find success with quantum tech.
In 2018, the Indian Government launched the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NMQTA), a scheme that aims to invest in quantum technology and make India a leader in the field. The NMQTA has been given a budget of over $1 billion per year, making it one of the best-funded governmental quantum divisions in the world. This funding is distributed across dozens of research hubs, focusing on both quantum computing and quantum sensors. As well as working with established research centers, NQMTA also hopes to encourage start-ups to explore applications of quantum technology.
One of the successes of this federal investment was QSim, an educational tool that gives users the opportunity to practice coding for quantum computers. This was developed in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science (IISC) and Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IIT Roorkee), universities based in Bangalore and Roorkee. These developments demonstrate the Indian Government’s dedication to quantum education, not just business applications.
As well as the two institutions involved with QSim, many other Indian universities now have dedicated quantum technology departments. IIT Roorkee’s sister universities in Jodhpur and Madras also research quantum technology, with IIT Jodhpur trying to bridge the gap between quantum and classical computing and IIT Madras focusing on other technologies such as quantum communications and sensors.
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The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (based in Mumbai) is also funded by NMQTA, and has a group applying quantum mechanics to superconductors, to improve quantum computer hardware in the future. The Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune and Harish-Chandra Research Institute in Prayagraj are also setting up Quantum Computing and Information Departments.
Comprised of experts from the University of Calcutta, QDRLab encourages collaboration and education in quantum technology. Their main goal is to build a network of experts, both Indian and international, to work on quantum cryptography and machine learning. The group also wants to help develop quantum computing courses at universities across India by providing standardized resources and certification. QDRLab is one of the world’s first “quantum consultants” and may play a part in organizing the many Indian startups.
Qpi Technologies is the parent of five subsidiaries, each targeting a different aspect of quantum technology. Operating from Bangalore, their areas of research include cloud computing, batteries, and superconductors. One of their most promising start-ups is QPiAI, which hopes to give businesses access to quantum AI through cloud computing. Quantum AI has the potential to tackle machine learning tasks in ways that were never possible before, and QPiAi gives its customers the opportunity to tailor these AIs to their specific needs.
Founded in Bangalore in 2016, QNu develops quantum cryptography solutions. While this company has not been operating long, it already has subsidiaries in 4 other countries, an indication of its success. Its main product is quantum key distribution, a method for securing communications using the principle that quantum information changes upon being observed. The company is also researching post-quantum cryptography: security methods that can protect classical computers from attacks by quantum computers.
Like QNu, Taqbit specializes in quantum key distribution. While it has not yet seen the international success that QNu has, it has been awarded a contract by the Defense Research and Development Organization. The unique method of protection provided by Quantum Key Distribution is invaluable to high-security organizations such as the Indian Military. This is remarkable for a company that is just a few years old, and again demonstrates the potential for quantum startups to flourish in India.
Another Bangalore-based startup, BosonQ boasts the first cloud-based quantum simulation available for commercial use. BosonQ has developed software for quantum computers that can simulate complex engineering problems. With classical computers, such simulations would be almost impossible to run successfully, but quantum computers excel at these tasks. This can speed up the design stages of an engineering project, and BosonQ being able to market this technology is an impressive feat.
Based in Chennai, Quantica Computacao develop software that makes quantum computing more accessible to companies outside of the computing industry. Their flagship project, Alchemy, allows users to compile software tools and run them together, making it easier to tailor quantum programs to specific needs. One of the largest barriers to entry into quantum computing is the difficulty of understanding and using quantum coding languages; Quantica Computacao hopes to break down this barrier for Indian companies. This startup is also developing its own quantum AI, to help develop and tailor algorithms for its client’s needs.
Directly funded by the NMQTA, the Quantum Information and Computing Lab develops entangled photon sources for use in quantum technologies. Entangled photons, pairs in which changes to one photon affect the other, are key to most quantum technologies. Having a group dedicated to researching methods for producing photons will help sustain India’s quantum technology industries. QuIC Lab is based at the Raman Research Institute and has developed hardware for both quantum computers and sensors.
One of the recurring objectives for the start-ups discussed above is to develop a network of quantum research based on cooperation. This makes India’s quantum future even more promising, as the emphasis on education and collaboration will encourage new talent and innovation. The fact that so many startups have already found success will likely lead to more investment; India has already attracted international attention from companies such as Amazon.
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References and Further Reading
Office of the Principle Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. (2022) Quantum Technologies. https://www.psa.gov.in/technology-frontiers/quantum-technologies/346
INDIAai. (2021) India’s first Quantum Computer Simulator (QSim) toolkit launched by MeitY. https://indiaai.gov.in/news/india-s-first-quantum-computer-simulator-qsim-toolkit-launched-by-meity
INDIAai. (2022) India’s Top Quantum Research Institutes. https://indiaai.gov.in/article/india-s-top-quantum-computing-research-institutes
QDRLab. (2022) https://www.qrdlab.com/
QPiAI. (2022) https://qpiai.tech/
QNu. (2022) https://www.qnulabs.com/
Taqbit. (2022) https://www.taqbit.com/
BosonQ Psi (2022) https://www.bosonqpsi.com/
Quantica Computacao (2022) http://www.quanticacomputacao.com/
QuIC Lab (2022) https://www.rri.res.in/quic/
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