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National Quantum Engineering Program Announced at SWITCH 2018

Minister for Finance and Chairman of National Research Foundation Singapore, Mr Heng Swee Keat, announced at the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) a new initiative by the National Research Foundation. Known as the Quantum Engineering Program (QEP), the SGD 25 million project aims to prototype and develop quantum technologies and devices.

QEP is one of three new initiatives launched today at SWITCH 2018. The initiatives are part of a wider movement to help Singapore nest itself comfortably as a key global player in Industry 4.0. Festivities between 17 to 19 September will feature startup exhibitors, talks about tech trends around the world, and a startup pitching competition.

What is Quantum Technology and its Applications

Quantum technology is a newly emerging field in physics and engineering. An extension of quantum mechanics, quantum technology leverages on two principles: superposition and entanglement.

Superposition allows a particle to exist in two locales or states simultaneously. In turn, this allows a single unit of data to exist in an even smaller capacity whilst retaining the same information. Applying this principle to quantum computing, large volumes of data can be stored and processed faster than previous generations of computers.

Entanglement allows two distant objects to be connected by a quantum state. This concept is important because only authorised entities can view the object in question. Authorised entities will be alerted of interceptors, as any attempts to trespass will befuddle the quantum effect. Thus, the application of the principle will be useful for secure communications and cybersecurity measures.

Based on these two principles alone, quantum technologies are indispensable in Industry 4.0 where data breaches are rife. Practical applications include the cybersecurity, global navigation systems, sensing technologies and diagnostic imaging, and advanced manufacturing capability.

Quantum Technology for Singapore

Everyone seems to be in the race for computing speed, with the greatest concentration in Europe and Northern America. Universities are being pumped with monies to develop the emerging field. Traditional Silicon Valley tech giants are also quick to latch on.

Singapore’s interest in investing in quantum technologies is in the commercialisation aspect. Over the past twenty years, the Little Red Dot has already created a name for itself as a leading global research centre. Attesting to the magnitude it could have, Minister Heng said, “Quantum computing, if realised, would break today’s most prevalent cryptographic systems in minutes.”

QEP aims to commercialise quantum technologies into high demand capabilities like quantum communication systems, quantum sensors and devices. Focus on these areas are important because they close gaps of feasibility and scalability in current research and commercialisation.

In collaboration with the National University of Singapore, QEP will tap onto the best minds in the field of quantum science, photonics devices and system engineering, the program will link researchers with industry partners and local startups.

Three co-Directors have been identified from Singapore’s leading universities.  With the QEP’s support, the co-Directors will launch calls for proposals in quantum secure communication, quantum devices and quantum networks. The work will be undertaken by publicly-funded researchers in collaboration with local and international industry partners.

Mr George Loh, Director (Programs) at the National Research Foundation, said, “The program will connect Singapore researchers in quantum information, photonics devices, system engineering together with industry partners from the onset of the translation and development process to advance quantum technologies. Through this, we also build a strong base of engineering talent who can tackle the technologically challenging aspects of fabricating quantum devices.”