The National Research Council has identified Germany as a priority collaboration partner in research and development of quantum technologies.
In a report completed for the National Research Council (NRC) in 2021, Global Advantage Consulting Group identified Germany’s strategies, policies, funding and programs related to quantum technologies, assessing its ecosystem and presented detailed information on the top universities, government research organizations and private sector research leaders. The report provided a basis to assess gaps and collaboration opportunities for Canada in the emerging quantum platform technologies.
Existing Bilateral Mechanisms and Channels
Canadian-German science and technology relations have benefitted from having had a bilateral intergovernmental agreement on S&T cooperation since June 30, 1971. Since then, more than 1,000 projects have been completed.
NRC has a range of Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with German entities, many signed in the last three years, evidence of an intensifying relationship.
At the Länder (state) level, NRC has an MOU with the Bavarian Research Alliance (BayFOR). Among German universities, NRC also has close relations with the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Technical University of Munich, RWTH Aachen University, and Goethe University in Frankfurt.
A 2016 Joint Declaration between NRC and the German Ministry of Economic Affairs supports collaboration between NRC-IRAP and Germany’s Central Innovation Program (ZIM) to support project partnerships between SMEs from the two countries. A 2018 Joint Declaration of Intent involving NRC and NSERC and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) provides for collaboration in joint research and technological innovation funding through joint calls for proposals.
Major Topic Areas and Institutions
German organizations have produced 15,637 quantum-related publications between January 1, 2017 and mid-September 2020.
According to NRC, the highest concentration of German organizations have research interests in quantum dots (man-made nanoscale crystals with the capability of transporting electrons), spectroscopy (the study of the absorption and emission of light and other radiation by matter) and quantum entanglement, with 15, 14, and seven organizations boasting more than 23 publications in these respective interest areas since January 1, 2017.
Principal German Collaboration Opportunities
The German Federal Government has stated that further development of quantum technologies requires strong international collaborations with a focus on applications.
Canada is well-positioned to take advantage of this collaborative sentiment towards developing quantum technologies. NRC has the opportunity to build off of previously existing relationships with German institutions.
Based off capabilities and network reach, the most valuable collaboration opportunities within Germany’s quantum technology ecosystem are in member institutions of the Clusters of Excellence, Max Planck Society research institutions, and Helmholtz Association research institutes. These institutions are considered leaders in quantum technology research due to the quality of their research networks and infrastructure, the number of publications they release, and their access to facilities and funding.
Source: Quantum Alliance
Launched in 2016, the Clusters of Excellence are part of the Excellence Strategy, a funding program by the federal and state governments to provide long-term support for cutting-edge research at German universities. A consortium of Clusters of Excellence and research centres was established to develop cutting-edge research among leading institutions in quantum science and technology. The figure above displays the Quantum Alliance Clusters and their locations within Germany.
The Max Planck Society (MPG) is comprised of 86 research institutions in Germany and abroad conducting basic research in the fields of natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences and the humanities. The Max Planck Society has an extensive research portfolio, and with respect to international collaborations, in 2016 Max Planck Institutes were involved in roughly 3,000 international research projects with more than 5,500 partners in over 110 countries.
Quantum research-conducting Max Planck Institutes (MPIs):
- MPI of Quantum Optics (MPQ)
- Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (AEI)
- MPI for the Science of Light (MPL)
- MPI for Solid State Research (MPI FKF); and
- MPI of Structure and Dynamics (MPSD)
MPG brings key expertise in the fields of quantum computing and simulation, quantum communication, including satellite communication and quantum metrology, in particular ultrasensitive interferometer sensor technology.
Germany’s largest scientific organization with an annual budget of €4.7 billion and 40,000 employees, the core focus of Helmholtz is long-term research into the preservation and improvement of human life. The Helmholtz Association consists of 19 independent research centres working in six fields (energy, earth and environment, health, aeronautics, space and transport, matter and key technologies). Moreover, through two research projects, “Future Information Technology” (FIT) and “Supercomputing and Big Data,” Helmholtz institutions are driving long-term development of quantum computing technologies.
For the most part, existing research collaborations between countries tend to be done on an ad hoc basis through a series of joint research calls, such as the recently announced NSERC-UKRI call for quantum technology projects between Canadian and UK organizations. Establishing meaningful international research collaboration takes time and patience, therefore a long-term strategy is crucial to ensure sustainable interstate cooperation.
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