Israel is gearing up for the quantum computing race, one of the hottest fields in computing today. Sources inform "Globes" that the Prime Minister's Office plans to allocate an initial sum of NIS 300 million ($80 million) for development of quantum computing technology in Israel. Most of the money will go to the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology for development of a quantum computer, among the first in the world. Part of it will go to the Weizmann Institute of Science, where scientists are working on development of capabilities in this field.
Sources familiar with the matter say that this is only an initial allocation of funds, and that to the extent that the feasibility of the project is proven, the resources made available for it will increase. It is assumed that private companies will also invest in quantum computing in Israel as it makes progress.
Technological and security importance
Unlike the computers with which we are familiar today, in which the basic unit of information is 1 or 0, quantum computing is based on the idea that the unit can at any given moment contain both values simultaneously. If this idea reaches commercial realization, it will make possible the development of extremely fast computers, with computing power unknown today. This will also solve the "Moore's Law problem": current computing methods are close to their limits and are no longer fulfilling the famous prediction of Gordon Moore that computers would double in power every two years.
Quantum computers will be able to solve problems that current computers cannot. Besides artificial intelligence, health and sensory computing applications, there are important defense applications that can only be developed through quantum computing. Only a few countries in the world are capable of developing these applications.
At a conference of science and technology ministers held last months in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the government intended to establish a quantum computing system with an investment on the same scale as the investment in cyberspace. He noted that a team of experts would soon be assembled to push Israel forward in areas regarded as critical for its security, including quantum computing.
One of the important catalysts for investment in the field was Association of Israeli High Tech in the Manufacturers Association of Israel. Among other things, Netanyahu consulted Association of Israeli High Tech chairperson and BATM Advanced Communications Ltd. (LSE: BVC) CEO Dr. Zvi Marom and experts in the field, including Nobel Prize winner Prof. Yisrael Aumann.
Speaking to "Globes" from China, Marom said, "We had a talk and the prime minister was convinced that quantum computing was an important subject that the Israeli government should be involved in and conduct research in order to consider whether we could be a global leader in the sector. He spent a lot of effort and time in studying the subject and was convinced that it was worthwhile being in the middle of it."
In a meeting held a few months ago with the heads of the high tech industry in Israel, Netanyahu officially announced the decision to promote quantum computing research with government support. The initial amount allocated to this is now known. "We are taking action to organize a consortium of industrial companies to support this measure," Marom says.
Intel, Microsoft, and IBM are in the picture
Leading international companies are also partners in the development of quantum computing capability, including Intel, IBM, and Microsoft, which are in a highly publicized race to achieve capability in this area. These companies are cooperating with research departments at the Technion and other research institutions. Industry sources believe that the companies will invest large-scale money and personnel resources and put facilities and development tools at the disposal of the scientists in order to promote quantum computing research.
Association of Israeli High Tech CEO Merav Kenan says, "We're looking at the long term and looking for areas in which Israel can become one of the leaders. When we talk about quantum computing five to ten years from now, it will be like we're looking at cyberspace today.
"There are advanced Israeli industrial companies that want to develop technologies in this sector and there are departments in large Israeli companies dealing with research and development for the next generation of computers."
The Technion announced two months ago a $50 million donation from the Helen Diller Family Foundation given for the purpose of establishing a center for quantum research in the academic institution. The donation has made it possible to recruit new staff, provide initial funding for research, and train the next generation of quantum computing experts. The new quantum center is the third recently established in quantum computing areas at the Technion with private donations.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 2, 2018
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