The rise of quantum technologies in France
With a strategic plan of €1.8 billion dedicated to quantum technologies, France is making quantum one of its priorities. An entire ecosystem is building up with startups, VC funds, and large corporations involved in different aspects of quantum technologies.
Infinite opportunities for quantum technologies
Quantum computing relies on properties of matter that exist only at an infinitely small scale. When fully mature, it could perform specific calculations up to 1 billion times faster than conventional computing technology, even with current supercomputer technologies, opening the way to solving a series of problems currently unsolvable in human time.
Quantum could trigger numerous technological revolutions in a wide range of fields of application, from cybersecurity to health, transport, chemistry, and the environmental transition, to name but a few. Quantum technology will likely enable significant advances that are still impossible to imagine today.
The US and China have dominated the quantum sector, but young European startups are also in the race. VC investments into quantum computing more than doubled in Europe last year, growing from $105 million in 2021 to $257 million in 2022.
France at the forefront of quantum technologies
For a few years, quantum technology has been identified as a significant strategic and sovereignty issue. In January 2021, French president Emmanuel Macron presented France’s national strategy, which aims to train 5,000 new talents by 2025 and create 30,000 jobs in the field of quantum technology by 2030.
Accompanied by a budget of €1.8 billion, this strategy has been reinforced by the France 2030 investment plan, which includes a section for developing quantum technology. The support of France 2030 is doubly virtuous. On the one hand, it helps laboratories and companies to acquire state-of-the-art tools. On the other hand, it enables startups in the sector to hire and laboratories to place orders with these startups.
Thanks to high-quality academic research, from which a generation of highly qualified entrepreneurs is emerging, France is very well placed in quantum technology. One example is Pasqal, the startup co-founded by Alain Aspect, Nobel prize in physics, which raised €100 million in January 2023, a record for a quantum startup in Europe. The objective of Pasqal is to recruit massively to accelerate the research and development of its technology. Another example is the startup Alice&Bob focusing on fault-tolerant quantum processors, which has successfully raised €27 million in 2022.
France is also the home of Quantonation, a VC firm solely focusing on quantum startups, the first VC fund dedicated to quantum in Europe. Founded in 2018, the company closed its first fund with €91 million of assets under management, which will focus on early-stage investments, from seed to series A. France aims to build an ecosystem covering the entire quantum ecosystem, from computing development to post-quantum security, with industrial and research forces.
A partnership between the Finnish IQM and the French Atos
The Nordic countries are also actively investing in and developing quantum technologies. In Finland, IQM has raised €128 million, including debt, in 2022 to expand its international activities and accelerate product development, focusing on advancing quantum processors to combat the climate crisis.
Last November, the Finnish company announced a partnership with the French company Atos, which has already developed a quantum simulation activity. To be successful at an international scale, synergies between European countries will have a critical role. The potential for collaboration between French and Nordic companies is high, as shown by IQM and Atos.
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