Experts have criticized a new European Innovation Council (EIC) report on emerging deep technologies, breakthrough innovations and early-stage research projects, questioning its approach to quantum computing and semiconductors, Euractiv has warned.
The EIC report, a flagship initiative of the European Commission, aims to identify emerging technology areas related to industry, space, health and the environment to provide the basis for development funding.
But not everyone is convinced. According to experts, the report’s sections on semiconductors and quantum technologies are unimpressive, notably lacking analysis of links to key EU legislative documents such as the Chip Act and the latest developments in quantum technologies.
Regarding the section on quantum technologies, Peter Zoller, an expert at the Austrian Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, described the report to Euractiv as “a bit one-sided”.
“Quantum sensing deserves special attention as a promising quantum technology. Not everything is quantum computing,” Zoller points out.
Similarly, others criticize the section on semiconductors for lacking depth.
“The report identifies the main trends in microelectronics and disseminates information, but does not address important issues, such as how research and development developed in Europe will be expanded,” Angela García Calvo, a professor at the University of Reading, told Euractiv.
The commission did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
The EIC falls under the Horizon Europe programme, which has a budget of €10 billion to support new technologies and innovation.
Quantum technologies, part of the EU’s sensitive data and digital infrastructure, is, according to the report, the EIC’s largest portfolio in the digital and industry section.
However, “the discussion completely misses the fact that one of the best applications of quantum computers and simulators is platforms with neutral atoms and ions manipulated by laser light,” Zoller points out.
Although the section on quantum technologies is written from the perspective of solid-state and materials physics, it fails to recognize that, for example, high-temperature quantum computing already exists.
High-temperature quantum computing refers to atoms that are trapped in a free vacuum and cooled to zero temperature using laser cooling. At the same time, the vacuum chamber is at room temperature.
Zoller claims the report is behind real-time scientific developments for the implementation of qubits, the basic unit of quantum computing. The report “ignores that we already have demonstrations of error correction with existing qubit implementations in our labs today.”
Another recent challenge is the security risks associated with quantum attacks, when previously encrypted material becomes hacked. As quantum computers outpace the capacity of supercomputers, the EU needs a roadmap to respond to “harvest attacks” and future quantum attacks on encryption.
Semiconductor research and innovation make up a large part of EIC’s portfolio.
However, the report did not address “the synergies between the EIC portfolio and the Chip Act and how the two can work together to reach 20% of global semiconductor production,” according to Calvo of the University of Reading.
The European Chips Act is the EU’s flagship initiative to protect and increase semiconductor supply, which came into effect in September.
The legislation was a response to a global shortage of microchips, whose production is largely concentrated in Asian countries such as Taiwan and South Korea.
The announced goal is to increase the EU’s share of global semiconductor production to 20% over the next 7 years, reducing dependence on foreign chip suppliers.
“So the question is to what extent the EIC portfolio complements the EU Chip Law or helps achieve its objectives,” Calvo points out.
Most of the demand for semiconductors in Europe comes from the automotive sector. Calvo also criticized the report as not reflecting the EU’s aim to diversify away from the automotive sector.
“How can European manufacturers diversify away from production for the automotive market when there is little domestic demand?” Calvo points out to Euractiv.
The original article is available HERE.
For more information, see the EIC Tech Report: EIC TECH REPORT 2023.