Well-attended kickoff for new center in quantum technology

The starting signal for the Wallenberg Center for Quantum Technology (WACQT) has been fired. About 75 invited speakers and guests gathered for a kick-off on MC2 on 13 and 14 March. "We have a very exciting ten-year journey ahead of us," says Per Delsing, head of the new center.
WACQT – formally launched on January 1 – is a total investment of almost SEK 1 billion. Most of the money come from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, which contributes with 600 million. The rest comes from Chalmers University of Technology Foundation, and the cooperating universities in Lund, Linköping and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). The goal is to build a Swedish quantum computer in ten years and to build competence in quantum technology in Sweden.
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Collaboration with business
The idea is also to start collaborations with industry in different areas. At the kickoff there were representatives from about ten companies like Astra Zeneca, Ericsson and IBM.
"We want to reach both smaller and larger companies, including those who do not currently work with quantum technology. Companies will have the opportunity to influence the focus of research based on their needs. Let's say that a company wants to develop a certain pharmaceutical and simulate that, then we can adopt our quantum computer so that it makes it more useful to simulate a certain type of drug. In this way, we can adapt to make it more interesting for companies to cooperate with us," says Per Delsing (picture above), who heads WACQT.
In Chalmers offering to companies there are opportunities for industrial PhD:s, advanced courses in quantum technology and invitations to workshops. It will also be possible to acquire licenses and establish intellectual property agreements for the research results. Conversations with companies will begin in the spring.
On 14 March, on the second day of the kickoff, there was also a special program point where companies were given the opportunity to present themselves and their wishes. In the entrance hall at Kemivägen 9 was a poster exhibition with several participating universities. There was also the opportunity to accompany guided lab tours.
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Exciting trip
The goal of the center effort is to take Swedish research and industry to the front of the second quantum revolution. The center is organizationally placed under the new Quantum Technology Laboratory at MC2. Per Delsing, Professor of quantum device physics, is the head of the laboratory.
"We have a very exciting ten-year journey ahead of us," he said in his welcoming speech.
But Delsing pointed out that the project is not just about building the desirable quantum computer:
"An important part of the research will be to find out what you can use a quantum computer for," he said.
 
Long line of lectures
The two days featured a wide range of presentations and presentations, both comprehensive and more detailed. Among the speakers were Guilherme B Xavier, Linköping University, Witlef Wieczorek, Chalmers, and Jonathan Burnett, Chalmers.
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Göran Johansson (picture above) told about the new graduate school to be built up. He concluded that it will be an attractive and competitive school:
"Therefore, we need to get the best ideas to make it as attractive as possible to apply to us," said Göran Johansson.
Such enticing factors may include newly developed courses and study trips.
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Göran Wendin (picture above) spoke in depth about a forthcoming guest research program and various EU-level quantitative support measures, with a planned research flagship being a key part. This will be as large as the current Graphene Flagship and will start on January 1, 2019.
 
Benefit be before the EU
The fact that WACQT started a whole year before the EU's new flagship, Per Delsing sees as a great advantage in terms of all recruitment of top researchers which needs to be done.
"Of course, everyone wants to recruit the best, so we have many challenges ahead of us. The size of the project is another competitive advantage," he said.
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Ongoing recruitment work
Recruitment is underway at the time of writing. Over ten years, 60 PhD students, 40 postdoctoral students, ten assistant professors and a number of visiting researchers are to be hired. In the winter, advertisements have been published in newspapers like Metro, Dagens Industri, Dagens Nyheter and Ny Teknik. Giulia Ferrini (picture above), who also gave a lecture, is the first newly appointed assistant professor in the project. Application deadline is 18 March.
"We are looking forward to many good candidates," said Per Delsing.
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In addition, Professor Gunnar Björk (picture above), Royal Institute of Technology, and Professor Stefan Kröll (picture below), Lund University, who lead related projects at their respective universities, projects that they also presented.
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New board was presented
During the kickoff days, the new board of WACQT was presented, with chairman Lena Gustafsson, former vice president of Chalmers, vice managing director at Vinnova and president at Umeå University, at the head. The other members of the board are Pontus de Laval, Saab AB, Sara Mazur, Ericsson, Tobias Ekholm, Institut Mittag-Leffler and KAW, Mats Viberg, vice president at Chalmers, Elisabeth Giacobino, École Normal Supérieure, and Charles Marcus, Copenhagen University. On 14 March, the board held its first meeting.
 
Several people have been involved in the planning for the high-end, but the lion's share of the work has been performed by coordinator Susannah Carlsson, communications officer, and Professor Göran Wendin, with coordinator Debora Perlheden as practical support.
 
Text: Michael Nystås
Photo: Susannah Carlsson och Michael Nystås
 
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Page manager Published: Thu 15 Mar 2018.