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Finland’s First Quantum Computer
Announced at the tail-end of 2020, the construction of Finland’s first-ever quantum computer is now fully underway. The project is a public-private collaboration, with € 20.7 million in funding from The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment having been granted to the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and their co-innovation partner IQM.
The mammoth project, currently underway at the Micronova research facility jointly owned by VTT and Aalto University, aims to put Finland at the forefront of an emerging technology that has powerful implications for AI, defence technology, transport infrastructure, and more. While the project has been billed as a Finnish success story, one aspect that can be easily overlooked is the diverse and international team behind it.
Around half a dozen nationalities are represented in the project team, which is overseen by Himadri Majumdar, an Indian-origin project manager who has lived and worked in the Helsinki region for more than 8 years.
Himadri Majumdar is the programme manager for Quantum Technologies at VTT. He held a PhD in applied physics from Jadavpur University in India, then worked as a senior researcher at Åbo Akademi in Turku.
His current role has involved leading the negotiations and evaluation for choosing VTT’s partner for Finland’s first quantum computer and managing the build.
In his interview for the Helsinki Times Himadri Majumdar says quantum computers will solve the kinds of problems that current computing methods simply cannot do. The implications for quantum computers like the one they are building in Espoo are strategic for both Finland as a country and Finnish industry. Theoretically, quantum computers can be used in climate modelling, pharmaceutical and vaccine development, traffic monitoring, financial services, and so much more.
Finland now has a unique opportunity to be a global leader in the next-generation computing industry. Quantum is the digital industry of the future. This is why Finland, and many other places are investing heavily in quantum.
Himadri Majumdar emphasizes that this current project is only the first series of quantum computers they are building. This project is designed to be a showcase that will demonstrate the capabilities of Finnish innovation in quantum. The first phase of the current project is for a 5-qubit quantum computer by 2021 that will be more of an experimental machine. In the next two phases of the project, they will build 20 and 50-qubit machines by 2024 to solve some basic real-world problems, which will act as a starting point for solving essential problems that classical computing simply cannot do.
This project is a strategic initiative by the Finnish government that aims to highlight Finland’s ambition and capabilities. Although Finland is not one of the countries that has made the biggest investments in this realm, the goal is to pave the way for more fruitful public-private partnerships such as ours and help to establish Finland’s long-term presence in quantum computing.