Quantum computing (QC) has moved beyond the planning stage. 97 percent of the global respondents to an Accenture survey in 2021 expect QC to generate levels of growth similar to those they have already seen through artificial intelligence (AI). Although quantum computing therefore has huge potential, quantum computers still face a number of challenges, particularly with respect to scalability and error correction. Nevertheless, companies can now take steps to prepare for the potential applications of QC and be better equipped for the future.
However, QC is not a simple subject, but requires expertise in physics, computer science and application-specific disciplines. The Fraunhofer Institute for Cognitive Systems IKS is conducting research in various projects to link the application with the technology and to realize the potential of QC together with industrial partners.
Tailored workshops for companies
But what opportunities does QC already offer and how can these be transformed into profitable business models in the future? Fraunhofer IKS answers these and other questions in a quantum computing workshop. Four modules, which are also available individually – Introduction, Ideation Phase, Use Case Exploration and Use Case Implementation – are guided by experts from the institute and can be adapted to the company’s needs and requests.
No specific prior knowledge is required, as the first module provides relevant information about the use of QC without getting lost in mathematical details. As a result, participants receive a sound but application-focused
overview. The second module aims to provide a more detailed introduction to the possible applications of QC. As an ideation phase, it offers participants the opportunity to discuss potential and possible applications in their own industry or company in small groups.
The third module specifies one or more such use cases, elaborating on the aim and benefits of the QC-assisted method. With the support of the IKS experts, the workshop participants look at QC from a business perspective and answer the question of what the specific use case is, who benefits from it and how much value can be generated in the short, medium and long term by the competitive advantage achieved. A use case can then optionally be implemented by the Fraunhofer IKS for the fourth module. This can be taught in a tutorial, providing an introduction to the QC topic that is specific to the application and tailored to the company.
Smaller and larger groups (5-15 people) get an insight into the basics, possibilities and challenges of QC without any technical barriers and with a focus on the specific application. Fraunhofer IKS can tailor all workshop modules to take into account, for example, a particular interest in specific topics and the participants’ background.
PD Dr. habil. Jeanette Miriam Lorenz, Department Head Quantum-enhanced AI at Fraunhofer IKS, who also teaches specifically on applied topics as part of the new “Quantum Science & Technology” study program at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), is responsible for organizing the workshops. But QC is not only interesting for universities, companies can already generate ideas and opportunities for innovation and tackle complex problems. But which sectors benefit the most?
Great potential for different areas
Quantum computers have the potential to revolutionize computing in a number of areas. For example, they are able to simulate complex chemical reactions and molecules faster and more precisely than classical computers. They can also help accelerate and improve the development of new medicines. There is potential in other areas of the medical sector as well, for example in assisting healthcare professionals with diagnosis using image data (e.g. CT scans) – so far, classical algorithms have often failed due to an insufficient amount of data.
In logistics and Industry 4.0, quantum computers could help solve complex optimization problems such as the order of production processes or the routes of delivery vehicles (the “Traveling Sales Person problem”). In the financial sector, QC can be used to compile attractive investment portfolios, taking interdependencies into account or to identify fraud indicators more effectively.
More generally, scientists around the world are currently exploring how QC can support classical artificial intelligence. This can potentially make computations shorter and more precise, simplifying the processing and analysis of big data.
Overall, quantum computing has enormous potential to solve problems that are insurmountable for classical computers. Although, quantum computing still has to evolve and overcome some challenges to do this. But one thing is certain: The future of QC is promising and will permanently change the way we process information and tackle problems, and expand the technical possibilities in data processing. Because the question is not if, but when quantum computers will revolutionize the world.