More than 80 participants, including researchers and students from Portugal and Spain, have participated last October 23&24 in the IBM-QuantaLab school on Quantum Computing organized at INL (Braga). The event counted with international experts on Quantum Computing, most notably a delegation from IBM-research in Zurich, the leading company in the fabrication of the first generation quantum computers. The School was the first ever organized in Portugal where students could carry out hands on training on quantum computing, accessing via internet to the IBM quantum computers physically located in Yorktown Heights, in the USA.
In the event, two portuguese groups, from INL and from U. Minho, presented the first quantum computations ever carried out by researchers in portuguese institutions. This has been possible thanks to the recent collaboration agreement between QuantaLab, a consortium of academic institutions and CEIIA, with IBM-research, that gives remote on-line access to quantum computers. The work of the INL team, led by J. Fernández-Rossier, one of the organizers of the event, is a first step to explore the use of computational modelling of molecules, with applications in drug design and petrol industry. The work of the U. Minho and INESC TEC joint team explored monadic functional programming as a way to smoothly design trustworthy quantum software.
J. Fernández-Rossier pointed out that “it is now critically important to invest in the training of the future generation of researchers on quantum technologies and quantum materials. Portugal can not afford missing the second quantum revolution, and we need to move fast to participate in this very exciting adventure. The very large participation from undergraduates and Master students in this event indicates that there is a pool of talented young persons looking forward to start research on this area”. INL director general, Lars Montelius, added that “hopefully we will soon have considerable funding mechanisms to address this challenge and benefit from this opportunity”.
Walter Riess, the head of the IBM delegation shared with the participants a piece from New York Times reporting on the shortage of experts in quantum computing, and highlighted the strategic importance for academia and companies alike of “getting quantum ready”.
The event was sponsored by Nanogateway, a project funded by Interreg Spain-Portugal.