In the dynamic arena of quantum technology, nations across the globe are competing for supremacy in this cutting-edge field. As of 2023, the quantum landscape is witnessing unprecedented investments and strategic initiatives, with countries such as Australia, Canada, China, and several European nations committing substantial funds to propel quantum research and development. Amidst this global quantum race, India has strategically positioned itself to harness the transformative potential of quantum technology.

India's foray into the quantum frontier is orchestrated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), leading collaborative efforts with the industry to propel quantum technology development within the nation. A multifaceted approach includes the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Quantum Technologies (CoE-QT), financial support for quantum startups, and groundbreaking projects like the Quantum Computing Applications Lab (QCAL).

Under the visionary National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NM-QTA), India has committed a substantial investment of Rs. 8,000 crores ($1.2 billion) to cultivate a robust quantum technology ecosystem. This commitment extends to research endeavours led by institutions like the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), showcasing India's dedication to exploring the potential of quantum computing.

Private sector giants such as TCS, Infosys, and Wipro are aligning forces with startups, contributing to the building of expertise and fostering innovation through international collaborations. With strategic alliances, substantial investments, and a commitment to education, India is positioning itself for a quantum future with transformative impacts on its economy, scientific landscape, and global partnerships.

Quantum effort globally
Quantum effort globally, Image source: QURECA Ltd. 2023

A comprehensive overview of the global quantum technology landscape reveals a thriving ecosystem marked by diverse strategic investments and collaborative efforts. Australia, with federal funding exceeding AU$231 million, is bolstering its quantum strategy. Canada, having invested over $1 billion in the past decade, is committed to a National Quantum Strategy, supporting quantum companies and startups.

China, a quantum pioneer since the 90s, has set ambitious goals, aiming to invest $15 billion by 2030, focusing on quantum communication and computing infrastructure. European nations collaborate through the European Quantum Flagship, backed by a €1 billion fund, fostering scientific leadership and industry development. Germany and France have made significant financial commitments, supplementing EU plans and investing €2 billion and €1.8 billion, respectively.

Asia-Pacific nations like Japan, South Korea, and India are allocating substantial sums for quantum research and technology development. Israel secured $380 million for a six-year quantum technology program, and Russia allocated $663 million for quantum research. In the UK, a two-phase quantum strategy has seen over £1 billion in investment, while the US, through the National Quantum Initiative, is set to spend over $1.2 billion.

Patent Documents by Jurisdiction
Patent Documents by Jurisdiction:  (Bhupesh Upadhyay for The IP Wave)

Quantum computing, rooted in the unique properties of qubits, introduces a paradigm shift compared to classical computing. Classical computers rely on binary bits (0 or 1), while quantum computers leverage qubits, existing as 0, 1, or a combination of both due to the inherent uncertainties in quantum states. This unique property grants quantum computers unparalleled computational and storage capacity, revolutionising various fields.

The core phenomena of quantum physics—superposition, uncertainty, entanglement, and tunnelling—find applications not only in quantum computing but also in quantum communication systems. The transformative potential of quantum technologies extends beyond computing, impacting cybersecurity, geopolitics, and national security. Quantum information, governed by the "quantum cloning principle," ensures enhanced security, making hacking and eavesdropping difficult.

Looking ahead, quantum computing promises disruptive advancements in meteorology, sensing, and medical imaging. Key sectors such as banking, drug discovery, manufacturing, and cybersecurity stand to undergo significant transformations, positioning India at the forefront of the global quantum endeavour. The narrative delves into how India can carve its niche in the quantum landscape, addressing technological, strategic, and geopolitical dimensions that define its quantum future.

Despite the challenges, the quantum technology industry has experienced substantial growth and investment. The year 2022 witnessed a record year for funding, with investments in quantum technology startups reaching $2.35 billion. While the rate of new startup creation slowed, established companies, particularly in hardware, attracted significant investments.

Public sector commitments continued, with the US investing an additional $1.8 billion, the EU committing $1.2 billion, and Canada contributing $100 million. China remains the global leader in quantum technology investment, with a total announced investment of $15.3 billion and a substantial number of quantum patents.

India and Finland strengthened collaboration in cutting-edge technologies, with the Centre for the Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in India and IQM Quantum Computers from Finland expected to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on quantum computing research. This aligns with India's National Quantum Mission, which aims to establish 21 quantum hubs and four research centres. The partnership also extends to nuclear technology, where Finland's expertise in small nuclear reactors is seen as beneficial for India's clean energy transition. Meanwhile, Russia's interest in collaborating with India on quantum applications and hardware for public services is gaining momentum, with discussions ongoing at the individual institute level. The United States and India have launched a grant program focusing on critical and emerging technologies, including quantum technologies and artificial intelligence, reflecting the commitment to bilateral collaboration and technological innovation.

In the dazzling realm of quantum technology, where possibilities are constantly expanding, intellectual property (IP) protection emerges as the guardian of innovation. A delicate balance is required to maintain protection without stifling the flow of ideas, considering the role of patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and trademarks in this dynamic landscape.

Patent Documents over Time (2003-2023)
Patent Documents over Time (2003-2023) (Bhupesh Upadhyay for The IP Wave)

Patents take centre stage, protecting tangible elements such as qubits, quantum gates, processors, and the overall quantum computing process. Copyrights safeguard the creative nuances of quantum software, APIs, and quantum arithmetic units, ensuring the protection of intellectual intricacies in the software domain.

Trademarks are essential in the realm of intellectual property, providing recognition and safeguarding for distinctive branding elements associated with quantum technology. The delicate balance is highlighted, as discussions about shorter protection terms circulate within the quantum community, reflecting a rhythm aligned with the rapid evolution of this technology.

Scientists and entrepreneurs in India believe that quantum technologies can play a pivotal role in helping the country achieve some of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. While India may not be on target to achieve more than half of these goals, quantum technologies have the potential to address multiple SDGs simultaneously.

For instance, quantum-driven solutions, such as novel materials for advanced electronics, expanding renewable energy, and securing digital environments, could simultaneously address energy security (SDG 7), climate action (SDG 13), and other interlinked objectives. However, India must overcome challenges in engineering stable and scalable quantum computers, integrating quantum technologies with classical systems, and ensuring global standardisation.

India's journey in the quantum landscape is marked by strategic initiatives, substantial investments, and a commitment to excellence. As the global quantum ecosystem thrives with diverse efforts, India stands poised to make significant contributions in various sectors, shaping its quantum future. The delicate balance of intellectual property protection, coupled with the potential to address Sustainable Development Goals, further underscores India's importance in the global quantum endeavour. As the quantum race continues, India's progress in research, development, and collaboration will undoubtedly play a crucial role in defining the future of quantum technology.

Written by Shivani, Visualisation by Bhupesh
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