Microsoft and Copenhagen to build quantum computer

Firm steps up collaboration with university as world’s biggest tech companies race to harness quantum physics

September 20, 2017
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Source: istock

Microsoft and the University of Copenhagen have signed an agreement that they hope will lead to their building a “general-purpose, scalable” quantum computer.

The US technology company will establish new laboratories on the university’s site and increase the number of its employees working with Copenhagen researchers on quantum computing.

This collaboration amounts to a “multimillion-dollar” investment in new facilities and equipment, according to the university.

The world’s biggest technology and computing companies, including IBM, Google and Microsoft are currently competing to harness quantum physics to create super-powerful computers.

Microsoft already has a presence of more than a dozen researchers at Copenhagen, but this latest agreement is set to expand that number. David Pritchard, chief of staff for the artificial intelligence and research division at Microsoft, said that there was “an exceptional team of top quantum researchers, a broad and deep pool of post doctorate and student talent, and a solid baseline of facilities and equipment dedicated to quantum research” at the university.

The company also has quantum research sites at Purdue University in the US, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and the University of Sydney in Australia.

In 2012, Copenhagen opened a Center for Quantum Devices, and has sought to make itself a major player in quantum research. Thomas Bjørnholm, prorector for research and innovation at the university, said: “We’re very proud of this [the latest Microsoft agreement] and are confident that it will reinforce a strengthened perception of Denmark as an attractive destination for international investments.”

As for technology licence rights, Copenhagen’s statement said that “an agreement capturing the elements of the collaboration has been signed covering the licence rights to Microsoft and the University of Copenhagen. The agreement reflects the interests of the parties and takes into account applicable legislation and guidelines in this area."

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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