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Singapore Increases its Investment in Quantum Computing, to Keep Ahead of Security Risks

The Singapore government on Tuesday announced plans to set aside SG$23.5 million (17.09 million) to support three national platforms.

 

Singapore aims to improve its quantum computing capabilities through new initiatives to build necessary skill sets and quantum equipment. It emphasises the importance of doing so in order to keep encryption technology resilient and capable of withstanding "brute force" attacks. 

The Singapore government announced on Tuesday that it will set aside SG$23.5 million (17.09 million) to support three national platforms under its Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP) for a period of up to 3.5 years. The scheme is a component of the country's Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2020 (RIE2020) strategy. 

Two of these platforms were presented today, including the National Quantum Computing Hub, which will pool knowledge and resources from the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT), as well as local universities and research institutes, to strengthen key skill sets. 

Teams from CQT, the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, A*STAR's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), and the National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) would seek to establish international collaborations and train new talent in order to address a skills shortage in the emerging industry. CQT and IHPC researchers would also create quantum computing hardware and middleware, with potential applications in finance, supply chain, and chemistry. 

The National Supercomputing Center (NSCC) would offer the supercomputing capacity required to design and train algorithms for usage on quantum computers. A second initiative, National Quantum Fabless Foundry, was launched to facilitate the micro and nano-fabrication of quantum devices in cleanrooms run by industrial partners. 

The platform, which would be hosted at A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, would aid in the creation of products in quantum computations, communication, and sensing. Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Heng Swee Keat, stated in his address announcing the new efforts that the country needs to stay alert in the face of growing dangers. Heng compared cyber threats to a "cat and mouse game," saying that efforts were made to keep ahead of hostile actors who were always looking for new holes to attack. 

With the cyber world rapidly developing, he believes quantum technology has the potential to be a "game changer." "Strong encryption is key to the security of digital networks. The current encryption standard, AES 256, has held up, as few have the computing power to use brute force to break the encryption. But this could change with quantum computing," he cautioned. 

"For some cryptographic functions, the fastest quantum computer is more than 150 million times faster than the fastest supercomputer. Quantum computers can solve in minutes a problem which takes a supercomputer 10,000 years." 

This underscored the importance of quantum technology research, the minister said. "Our investment in quantum computing and quantum engineering is part of our approach of trying to anticipate the future and proactively shaping the future that we want." 

He said that as digitalisation increased, so did cyber concerns and that Singapore must continue to spend to keep ahead of possible threats. He went on to say that the fabless foundry will use the country's manufacturing skills to create quantum devices that would tackle "real-world difficulties" in collaboration with industry partners.
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