The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron presented Thursday on the Saclay plateau a national investment plan of 1.8 billion euros in quantum, which should put France in “the three world leaders” of these technologies called to transforming IT and industry.
“With this public-private commitment of 1.8 billion euros” over 5 years, “including one billion euros coming directly from the State”, France is acquiring the “key to be at least among the three world premieres “, without even excluding” a stronger ambition “, indicated the Head of State after a visit to the Center for nanosciences and nanotechnologies on the Saclay plateau, one of the major places of French research.
Quantum technologies exploit the surprising properties of matter at the infinitely small scale (atom, ion, photon, electron …).
They should eventually make it possible to build computers with calculation capacities ridiculing those of the most powerful current supercomputers.
They also promise many industrial uses, such as sensors much more sensitive than today or inviolable means of communication.
Still in its infancy, they are starting to come out of research laboratories as prototypes, but it will probably take several more years to see viable commercial applications.
According to the Elysee, the quantum plan announced by the president increases public funds for quantum “from 60 million euros per year to 200 million per year”, which would place France in third place in the world, behind China and United States.
Thanks to these efforts, France has a chance of becoming “the first state to equip itself with a complete prototype of a generalist quantum computer”, which would be “a major scientific achievement”, Emmanuel Macron said.
– Keep talents and technologies –
In addition to the 1.05 billion euros of the State, the envelope announced Thursday includes European credits (200 million euros) and forecasts of the private sector (550 million).
In detail, the French plan plans to devote an envelope of nearly 800 million euros to computers alone, whether they are the first machines (simulators and partially quantum machines, 350 million euros) or those which will appear in the longer term (full quantum computers, 430 million euros).
The other envelopes will be devoted to sensors (250 million euros), post-quantum cryptography (150 million euros), quantum communications (320 million euros) and related technologies that make it possible to build quantum equipment. (cryogenics for example, 300 million euros).
According to the Elysee, half of the announced public funds will come from the Future Investment Program, and half from the various research establishments involved in quantum (Inria, CNRS, CEA, etc.)
The quantum plan should in particular make it possible to finance “around a hundred thesis grants and around fifty post-doctoral contracts”, to which can be added “around ten + Young Talent + grants per year” to bring promising researchers to France. .
“We need to keep our talents, and also to keep certain technologies so as not to depend in particular on the two great international powers (Editor’s note China and the USA) which compete with us,” Emmanuel Macron said Thursday morning.
Keeping “complete control of this value chain is absolutely key to keeping research free at all times, and for our sovereignty in terms of know-how and industrial applications”, he added.