Toespraak van minister Kamp bij opening Quantum Europe

Toespraak van minister Kamp (EZ) bij de opening van Quantum Europe in Amsterdam op 17 mei 2016. De tekst is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Ladies and gentlemen,

A very warm welcome to Quantum Europe 2016. We are here today to give quantum technology in Europe a major boost.
Important, because as we all know quantum technology will radically change our world. And Europe could play a decisive role in this process.

I’ve been looking forward to this conference, which has brought together so many authorities on this subject. Experts from academia, industry and politics who are leaders in their field: the people we need to make quantum technology a success. They include physicists Alain Aspect, Anton Zeilinger, Sir Peter Knight, Charles Marcus and John Martinis, to name but a few.

We have top European industrialists here, like Michael Bolle of Bosch and Markus Matthes of ASML. And we have some influential guests from North America: Mike Lazaridis from Waterloo, Mike Mayberry of Intel and Krysta Svore of Microsoft. Thank you all for joining us here today.

The Netherlands – currently holder of the EU Presidency – is hosting this event in association with the European Commission and QuTech. And we are all delighted to see you gathered here. For it’s only by working together that we can speed up the development and application of quantum technology, and give Europe a leading role in the process.

There is a lot at stake. In one of his State of the Union addresses, US President Barack Obama noted that we are at a crossroads. 'We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow,' he said. And he is right. It is quantum technology that will produce the innovations of the future, giving us unprecedented technological, societal and economic opportunities.

Now that Moore’s law is beginning to reach its limits, it is time for new technology to meet the ever-growing demand for computing power and data processing. Quantum computers could signal the birth of a new age. For a long time, they seemed out of reach. But since the start of this century important scientific and technological steps have been taken, bringing the development of quantum computers and quantum networks closer to becoming a reality. In fact, the first 9-qubit devices already exist today. This shows that a small circuit for a quantum computer is feasible. The challenge is to scale up.

The applications of quantum technology are promising. Scientific advances and the urgent need to solve grand challenges related to climate, energy and security will push quantum technologies from the laboratories to industries and markets. Quantum computers could eventually allow us to calculate the properties of molecules and materials, such as new materials for energy solutions and complex systems like protein folding.

In the short term too we can expect new applications [wijs naar infographic op achtergrond]. Between now and 2035, quantum technologies will produce a variety of innovations that can be marketed. The accuracy of quantum sensors, for example, will enable breakthroughs in inertial navigation, brain imaging and MRI scans. And quantum communications could also point the way forward for the 'internet of things' and high-security applications.

It's clear that quantum technology will not only lead to major technological and scientific innovation, but will also have untold commercial potential. We can see that in the growth in investment by governments and companies all over the world.

The US, for example, is spending 360 million euros on efforts to create a high-performance supercomputer that can support defence activities. Companies like Google, IBM, Intel and Microsoft are all investing, too.

And in China, the government and companies are investing heavily in the development of commercial quantum key distribution, with a secure link between Shanghai and Beijing and the launch of a quantum communications satellite.

The UK has launched an investment programme worth 370 million euros for 2014 to 2019. Its aim is to secure a role for the UK in the future quantum technology market.

The Netherlands also sees great potential in quantum technology. In 2014 the Dutch government dubbed the QuTech research institute in Delft a 'national icon'. At QuTech, we combine the creativity and expertise of top scientists with the professional engineering capabilities of knowledge institute TNO. They have strong ties to other quantum hubs in Europe and leading ICT industries Microsoft and Intel. The Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs and other public and private partners are investing approximately 250 million euros in it over 10 years. The goal is to create an ecosystem that attracts the best people in the world to take up the challenge to develop hardware and software needed for quantum computers.

These investments are sorely needed in order to develop the technology further and to reap the benefits of all the hard work of recent years. With this in mind, I have high expectations of the European Flagship programme that Commissioner Günther Oettinger will be presenting later. The Commissioner and I are both convinced that Europe has an opportunity to be a major player in a key technology of the 21st century.

The joint efforts of European research institutes, companies and governments in the Flagship programme will give Europe a unique opportunity to lead the way in the 4th industrial revolution. We're starting from a favourable position: European scientists in the field are among the best in the world. Some of them will be speaking here today.

Commissioner Oettinger and I visited QuTech together in October last year, and on that occasion jointly called upon the quantum community to devise a common strategy. A lot of work has been done on this over the past few months. The manifesto announcing this strategy will be officially presented in a little while. But I can tell you now that some 3400 parties have already signed it, signalling broad support for the strategy – a terrific result!

Ladies and gentlemen,

100 years ago, the foundations of quantum mechanics were laid in Europe by scientists including Max Planck, Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein. It led to the birth of the first quantum revolution, which provided the world with important products like the transistor and the laser. We can only guess at what the second quantum revolution will bring us. Some of its products will be things we can't even imagine today.

We can ensure that the revolution happens in Europe, by investing in research, education and start-up venture finance. The Commission’s Flagship programme and the manifesto provide an excellent roadmap. I hope that we will look back on this conference as the point at which the second European quantum revolution really gathered momentum. Because now is the time to act. I wish you all a fascinating and productive conference.

Thank you very much.