National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NM-QTA) – II

In the first post, I introduced the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NM-QTA). In this second post, I shall provide an overview of international quantum technology space.

An overview of international quantum technology space

It is not possible to accurately rank countries in terms of their progress in the international quantum technology space. However, the general consensus is that the United States and China are at the forefront of quantum research.

The below given overview is not exhaustive. There are many other countries which have quantum research programs (like Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Australia). The objective of this post is to discern the underlying sentiment of the policy statements of leading economies in quantum research which is the significance of being at the top of the quantum technology value chain

United States

United States enacted a law titled ‘National Quantum Initiative Act’ (2018) to ‘accelerate quantum research and development for the economic and national security of the United States’. The National Quantum Initiative is a ‘whole-of-government approach to ensuring the continued leadership of the U.S. in QIS and its technology applications’.

United States is reportedly concerned about the pace of Chinese R&D in quantum space and is, therefore, considering imposing China related quantum technology export controls.

The general impression is that the US investments are primarily private-driven unlike China (which are primarily state-driven).


There are reports indicating that the Chinese government is investing quite heavily in the quantum space – surpassing that of EU and US. Mc Kinsey report, for instance, indicates that China (15.3 billion dollars) is far ahead of United States (3.7 billion dollars) and European Union (8.4 billion dollars) (and other players) when it comes to public investments in quantum research (page 15). (For Technical University of Munich one page overview comparing US, China and EU quantum initiatives, click here.)

Building a robust technology infrastructure (that entails quantum technology) is at the core of the 14th five year plan of the Chinese government. The introductory paragraph of the five year plan (translated version by Stanford University) states as follows: “During the “14th Five-Year Plan” period, informatization is entering a new phase of accelerated digitized development and building a digital China. General Secretary Xi Jinping has stressed that without informatization, there is no modernization. Informatization brings opportunities for the Chinese nation to scale difficult peaks, and the historical opportunity of informatization development must be acutely grasped. Accelerating digitized development and building a digital China are inherent requirements for meeting the changed circumstances of a new development phase, grasping the opportunities of the information revolution, building new advantages for national competition, and accelerating the creation of a modern Socialist country; they are strategic steps in implementing new development ideas and promoting high-quality development; and they are a necessary road to promote building a new development structure and building a modern economic system.”

The above five year plan document mentions quantum technology 22 times and in fact, positions the technology at the core of digital China.

European Union

The European Union issued a Quantum Manifesto in May 2016 with the stated objective of becoming a leader in the quantum space. Pertinently, it states as follows: “Europe needs bold strategic investment now in order to lead the second quantum revolution. Building on its scientific excellence, Europe has a window of opportunity to foster the competitive quantum technology industry essential for the delivery of long-term prosperity and security.” (Page 16)

In 2018, the European Union launched the Quantum Technologies Flagship with a budget of 1 billion euros. The Flagship program aims to: a) bring together all the stakeholders; and b) facilitate the commercialisation of the technology. The press release dated 31 January 2023 indicates that the R&D initiatives has started showing results.

United Kingdom

The UK Innovation strategy recognises that the countries which secure leadership roles in transformational technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum technology will enjoy unrivalled growth, security and prosperity (Page 8). UK launched the National Quantum Technologies Programme in 2013 with an altogether budget of 1 billion pounds. The objective is to achieve dynamic collaboration amongst industry, academia and government. One of the stated objectives is to emerge as a global centre of excellence in quantum research and development. UK established quantum technology hubs way back in 2014 in University of York, University of Birmingham, University of Glasgow and University of Oxford.

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