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Information technology companies in India are pushing for faster adoption of quantum technology by investing in and partnering with technical institutes that will provide the latest know-how in quantum physics, build labs, and find and nurture talent to create quantum applications.
For example, on July 23, Tech Mahindra signed a pact with Mahindra University to establish a so-called Makers Lab, which is to manage research and development in the field of quantum and metaversion, among other things. A day earlier, IT firm Mphasis announced a pact with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras to “accelerate basic and applied research” in quantum computing.
Mphasis also announced a grant of ₹21 crore to develop and attract talent, offer scholarships and help startups. The company has established a similar partnership with the University of Calgary in Canada.
India’s largest IT company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is also interested in this area. Anil Sharma, head of business incubation at TCS, said the company has intensified collaboration with academia, industry players and quantum technology vendors in the past year to build and expand its quantum network.
Quantum computers use the principles of quantum physics for information processing to provide an alternative model of high-performance computing. They use quantum principles, superposition, to simultaneously represent bits – 1 and 0. This greatly increases their overall computing power, allowing them to solve more complex problems in a fraction of the time.
Although a true quantum computer does not currently exist, IT firms hope to tap into the massive computing power that such computers promise in the solutions they provide to their customers by breaking in soon, industry experts said.
“Quantum allows us to solve some classic problems that we couldn’t solve before,” said Nikhil Malhotra, Global Director, Makers Lab, Tech Mahindra. He pointed out that understanding protein molecules for drug discovery, fraud detection in the banking and financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector, satellite positioning and cryptography are some areas where it can make a difference.
For its part, Mphasis has developed the EON (Energy Optimized Network) quantum computing framework, for which it has applied for a patent. The company claims it can overcome the limitations of Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum (NISQ) quantum computing systems.
NISQ refers to the current era of quantum computing, in which companies can develop working quantum computers that can perform tasks that classical computers cannot. Classical computers can then run machine learning (ML) operations on these results to provide final solutions. This is how QaaS (quantum-as-a-service) products are currently offered.
However, industry experts and IT firms admit that the effort will not come overnight.
Tech Mahindra’s Malhotra said that some cases may benefit from quantum computing currently, while others may see use in the next 4-5 years. “But then the industry needs to start now and create that kind of skills for them,” he added.