Whether in computing, sensor technology, or cryptography – the possibilities for using quantum processes for groundbreaking technological innovations are promising. Efforts in basic research are intensive. And no less so are the approaches to turn all these technological promises into practical applications. The Quantum Valley Lower Saxony (QVLS), the joint quantum technological competences in Lower Saxony, already stands for this path to practical application: With a so-called high-tech incubator, the foundation of start-ups that focus on quantum technologies is to be substantially supported. The state of Lower Saxony is funding this special high-tech incubator with 4.7 million euros. The corresponding funding decision was handed over to the project managers at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt on 5 July 2022 by Stefan Muhle, State Secretary in the Lower Saxony Ministry of Economics, Labour, Transport and Digitalisation.

“Quantum computing will permanently change all areas of our society,” says State Secretary Stefan Muhle. “Digitalisation has shown in recent years: companies that lag behind the general development in the implementation of the digital transformation have a harder time holding their own against competitors in the market today. The QVLS-HTI will transfer quantum technologies into economic use as low-threshold as possible and support companies in preparing for this renewed “industrial revolution” as early as possible.”

“We are thrilled about this strong support from the state – the stimulus funding for the QVLS-HTI offers a unique opportunity to bring the region’s scientific excellence to the market. 14 teams are waiting in the wings to implement their ideas in Lower Saxony,” says Dr. Nicolas Spethmann, coordinator of the QVLS-HTI.

The QVLS-HTI is funded until the end of 2024 by the Quantum Technology Competence Centre of the PTB, together with the university partners from Hanover (Leibniz University) and Braunschweig (TU Braunschweig). At the same time, the incubator is integrated into the Quantum Valley Lower Saxony (QVLS). The central goal of QVLS-HTI is to establish a long-term and powerful structure to support deep-tech start-ups in the field of quantum technologies. An important prerequisite for this is low-threshold access to high-tech infrastructure and highly specialised expert knowledge. Both are represented in the Hannover-Braunschweig region by QVLS (QVLS speaker team: Prof. Piet Schmidt (PTB), Prof. Christian Ospelkaus (LUH), Prof. Andreas Waag (TU Braunschweig)), the alliance of quantum technology activities of research institutions and universities in the region. A central goal here is the development of a 50-qubit quantum computer demonstrator. Complementary to this, the QVLS-HTI is to transfer quantum technologies and accompanying enabling technologies as efficiently as possible into commercial use and thus help overcome the so-called “Valley of Death” between research and market.

Within the framework of the QVSL-HTI, 14 teams (young companies, start-ups, settlements from abroad) have been awarded through a competitive selection process. Each of the teams will receive additional funding of up to 200,000 euros from the state through the QVLS-HTI, giving them a strong boost. During the publicly funded phase (a total of 2 million euros for the HTI infrastructure), it is planned to establish a self-supporting institution QVLS-HTI GmbH, which will provide a powerful and long-term structure for technology transfer. State Secretary Stefan Muhle concluded: “Many thanks to the PTB for its commitment to establishing high-tech incubator structures in Lower Saxony. The QVLS-HTI is an important building block on the way to more innovation, transfer and start-up spirit in Lower Saxony. I wish the start-ups every success!”

In the picture: State Secretary Stefan Muhle from the Lower Saxony Ministry of Economics, Labour, Transport and Digitalisation hands over the funding decision for the QVLS High-Tech Incubator to those responsible for the project at PTB. From left to right: Dr. Nicolas Spethmann (PTB), Dr.-Ing. Prof. h. c. Frank Härtig (Vice President of PTB), StS Stefan Muhle, Dr. Anna Cypionka (PTB) (Photo: PTB)