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Structuring the European Research Area within Quantum Information Science and Technology

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Europe's quest for better QIST research

Increasing cooperation and exchange between scientists and industry helps spur research throughout Europe. This is no truer than for quantum information science and technology. But thanks to European initiatives this is one field that has a true champion.

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The gap between what industry needs and the research produced by academia is sometimes wide. But by creating a forum of exchange, the gap can be closed. And certain fields of research need this level of cooperation more than others. Quantum information science and technology (QIST) is one of them because it covers such a diverse range of subjects. And because it is based on the physical laws of quantum mechanics instead of classical physics, QIST is an important fixture of research for future applications in information and communication technologies (ICT). But the problem facing QIST scientists is that they were not always aware of similar research being conducted in other Member States. This means business opportunities for their application and benefits to society may be held up. The momentum of Europe's early and leading role in QIST needs to be maintained. To maximise and harness the potential benefits of QIST, the EU-funded project 'European research into quantum information science and technology' (ERA-Pilot QIST) identified key areas of European research and how best to foster collaboration among all the various scientists, policy-makers, and industries. The project aimed at not only establishing a forum of exchange among these players, but also identified best research practices, and created a set of measures that could be incorporated into plans for future funding policies by individual Member States and the European Commission. ERA-Pilot QIST also suggested ways to best cluster regional and thematic centres of excellence. Navigating through all these initiatives and finding the optimal solution for everyone involved is a task that requires long-term commitment. But first, the project needed to elaborate a classification scheme for QIST that would raise awareness and inform the scientific community of developments within the field. Once completed, the scheme was quickly adopted and implemented by the scientific community. Indeed, it was the first time any organisation or project had developed such an extensive and user-friendly classification system. With the classification in place and in use, the European QIST community can now analyse differing research groups in almost all European countries simply by accessing an online database. Next, the project researchers put together a European QIST guideline. The guideline helps initiate dialogue among scientists, policy-makers, and industry representatives. Finally, the project looked at and compared European QIST research with other structures outside Europe. This enabled researchers to spot best practices that could be adopted into the European research framework. The result is that the ERA-Pilot QIST has helped foster European QIST research. The online database, guideline, and comparative study with non-European research structures, enables research groups here to better cooperate with their peers and the industry. It also gives pertinent knowledge and recommendations to funding institutions at the national and European level so that Europe can maintain its momentum in QIST research and application.

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