Israel’s Innovation Authority and the Ministry of Defense’s research and development agency (MAFAT) have revealed plans to build the country’s first quantum computer. they will allocate a budget of NIS 200 million (about $60 million) to build the computer.
A quantum computer, based on the principles of quantum physics, enables the simultaneous processing of a large number of scenarios over ordinary computers, including the most powerful supercomputers.
Theoretically, tasks that a modern computer takes thousands of years to complete could be performed on a quantum computer within hours, and sometimes even minutes. The perception is that such computing powers can revolutionize industries such as drug development, the discovery of new materials, the development of sensitive sensors, intrusion-proof encryption, simulations, financial calculations, and more.
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Israeli investment in quantum computing will go two distinct paths. The Israel Innovation Authority will focus on designing and constructing a quantum computer infrastructure capable of conducting computations directly or via cloud access, primarily for the purpose of optimizing or improving various quantum computing components. The infrastructure will enable the validation of existing algorithms and will be available for research at all hardware and software layers, but will not contain fabless installations. In the initial phase, foreign technology may be used in part to create and operate the infrastructure. Subsequently, this infrastructure will incorporate quantum processors and Israeli technologies.
Quantum computers in the world today operate, but they are still very limited in their ability and are used mainly for research purposes. The establishment of the quantum computing infrastructure is seen as a “first step”, which will establish in Israel an independent infrastructure, knowledge, and capabilities, which will enable it to participate in the global quantum computing race – and prepare for a future where sophisticated quantum computers will make real revolutions, both industry, and security.
According to the Ministry of Defense, MAFAT would establish a national quantum capabilities hub that will coordinate Israeli ecosystems for ‘blue and white’ capabilities. The new center will work in collaboration with academia, industry, and national organizations to address all aspects of quantum processor development, including hardware, control, optimization, algorithms, and interfaces. The goal is to build a complete quantum computer.
The plan is to operate in two tracks. One route, which will be led by the Innovation Authority, is to set up a quantum computer with a processor of about 20 cubic meters in about a year. RFI (Information Requests) has been published in the past to understand the existing ecosystem, needs and capabilities, and in the coming month a call from the Authority is expected to be published, inviting companies, start-ups and researchers to create a consortium to set up the project.
Since in Israel there is no knowledge for building a computer from scratch, the expectation is that foreign companies that specialize in building quantum computers such as IQM or IonQ will join forces with Israel, according to The Marker.
The Innovation Authority does not intend to purchase a “black box” model of a quantum processor. The foreign company will need to establish an Israeli entity, and build the processor in Israel on the basis of its intellectual property – but in collaboration with Israeli engineers.
The goal is to be able to establish in Israel the relevant knowledge for the further development of technology in the country – including the training of Israeli engineers.
In addition to the foreign company, Israeli startups that are developing various peripheral technologies for quantum computers are expected to join. There are a few, such as Quantum Mashins, Litsolver, Kedma, Classic, and others.
The computer will be able to serve companies, researchers, and military-security organizations that are interested in developing and conducting experiments of quantum applications, algorithms, and hardware technologies for quantum computers.
The second route, which will be led by MAFAT, will be carried out in parallel, and its goal will be to establish in Israel knowledge and capabilities that will allow in the future to build a full Israeli quantum computer, from end to end. Countries without these capabilities will be left behind both at the technological level and at the security level.
Dror Bin, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, stated that quantum computing is a technology that Israel cannot afford to ignore. He stated that Israeli industry must develop know-how and access to infrastructures that would enable it to develop growth engines in the activities in which it can prosper.
Dr. Daniel Gold, head of MAFAT, stated that quantum computing is a critical component of the future of state security and advanced technology and that launching this action as part of a national program constitutes a significant step toward establishing Israel’s independence in this field.
The investment in a quantum computer with a budget of NIS 1.25 billion, follows tens of millions of shekels invested in developing technology in companies and by researchers as part of a national program for quantum science and technology initiated by MAFAT, the Israel Innovation Authority, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Science and Technology.