Germany bundles its competencies in quantum communication

Umbrella project Quantum Communication Germany SQuaD brings together central partners in the Innovation Hub

Jena / Berlin (Germany)

Quantum communication promises tap-proof transmission of information by exploiting quantum mechanical effects. One of the most widely researched use cases at present is quantum-based key distribution. After intensive research in this field, the technological leap into industry is now imminent: the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding 36 institutions in the Innovation Hub for Quantum Communication to link research institutes and companies. The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF and its spin-off Quantum Optics Jena are also partners in the accompanying umbrella project Quantum Communication Germany.

"Our main goal in the next few years is to ensure that companies and research institutions are well networked so that they benefit from each other in close exchange," explains Dr. Nicolas Spethmann, coordinator of the umbrella project Quantum Communication Germany (in German: "Schirmprojekt Quantenkommunikation Deutschland", or SQuaD for short). "The use of quantum-based key distribution to complement post-quantum cryptography can contribute significantly to Germany's IT security and technological sovereignty."

Another task of SQuaD is to lay the foundations for the emerging ecosystem in quantum communications, for example by providing test environments, reliable setups for testing components, and driving forward standardization and certification. This will ensure that Germany and Europe are self-sufficient in quantum communications and not dependent on non-European suppliers.

Group picture of the SQuaD partners.
© SQuaD
The partners of the SQuaD project and representatives of the project executing agency at the kick-off in Berlin.

Networking research results with industrial development


SQuaD is intended - as a kind of control center - to bring together existing research results with the industrial development of components, systems, and solutions for quantum communication. In close cooperation with the industry-led projects funded in the Quantum Communication Innovation Hub, further activities for a prosperous quantum communication ecosystem will also be addressed. This includes strengthening collaboration via workshops and joint working platforms as well as standardization and aspects of IT security with a view to their certifiability. All these components promote the chances of success for technology transfer. SQuaD has a total funding volume of around nine million euros for a period of 40 months.

SQuaD is coordinated by the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in close cooperation with the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). Further partners are:

  • Keequant GmbH, Fürth
  • Quantum Business Network UG, Munich
  • Saarland University, Saarbrücken
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, Karlsruhe
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF, Jena
  • Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI, Berlin
  • Leibniz University, Hanover
  • Quantum Optics Jena GmbH, Jena
Illustration with the project partners involved.
© SQuaD
Structure of SQuaD: involved partners and interaction with relevant actors and alliances of the QCom ecosystem.


About SQuaD

The "Schirmprojekt Quantenkommunikation Deutschland" (SQuaD) will create a central point of contact for expertise and infrastructure in quantum communication in Germany:

Quantum communication is a key technology for the security of digital infrastructures in our society. By using quantum states, it manages to prevent eavesdropping attacks and thus preserve the confidentiality of sensitive information.

Research activities on quantum communication have so far been strongly driven by basic research and largely concentrated in universities and research institutions. In order to enable the broad technology leap from science to industry, basic research and industry must act in a well networked manner in the coming years and learn and benefit from each other in close exchange. This goal is to be achieved by the Innovation Hub for Quantum Communication.

Laboratory setup for researching quantum-encrypted communication.
© SQuaD
Quantum communication is a key technology for the security of digital infrastructures in our society. Pictured here: A laboratory setup for researching quantum-encrypted communication.

Goals and procedure

The goal of the SQuaD project in the Innovation Hub is to establish a central point of contact for expertise and infrastructure in quantum communication in Germany. This will support a strong role for Germany and Europe in the commercialization of quantum communication with the goal of technological sovereignty. To this end, players from research and industry, such as the QuNET, QR.X and DivQSec alliances, which span the entire innovation chain, will be brought together.

The companies from the implementation projects of the Innovation Hub and beyond will be involved in the orientation of SquaD via an industry advisory board. Furthermore, existing research setups of the partners will be expanded to publicly usable testbeds for quantum communication technology.

The potential of quantum communication for companies will be communicated through targeted education and training offers as well as through an online platform. A monitoring of the worldwide developments in quantum communication will be exchanged in regular reports within the umbrella project and will finally flow into a roadmap for quantum communication technologies in Germany. Planned activities for standardization and certification, involving central players such as the German Institute for Standardization (DIN), will safeguard commercial exploitation strategies.


Innovations and Perspectives

By establishing a central national contact point for interested parties from industry and research, the umbrella project is making a coordinating and networking contribution to the long-term transfer of current quantum communication technologies to industrial applications.

The umbrella project is a central element of a comprehensive research network that is being established in the Innovation Hub for Quantum Communication in Germany. It bundles nationwide research activities so that Germany and Europe can play a key role in shaping the developing quantum communications market, develop technological foundations at an early stage and protect them under patent law. This lays the foundation for innovative, internationally competitive products in the field of this key technology and makes an important contribution to Germany maintaining a leading role among the world's top technology providers.