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Secure networks EU quantum communications project unveils Swiss partners

Blackboard with science equations

Quantum technology could help secure critical national infrastructure.

(© Keystone / Christian Beutler)

Four Swiss actors have joined the European Union’s €15 million (CHF16.4 million) research project around quantum communications networks. The OPENQKD project will test use cases for Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) data security in several countries, including Switzerland.

On Tuesday, the University of Geneva, Services Industriels de Genève (SIG), ID Quantique and Mt Pelerin announced they had joined the list of 38 companies and research institutes across Europe to take part in the project, which launched on September 2external link.

Budding crypto bank Mt Pelerinexternal link and crypto storage firm ID Quantiqueexternal link have already made a joint venture foray into the quantum world with the development of Quantum Vaultexternal link, which combines blockchain with quantum technology to offer a secure storage venue for cryptocurrency holders.

SIGexternal link offers environmentally sustainable energy management, water and waste treatment services in canton Geneva, and is currently working on a quantum safe security system to transfer data between centres.

The University of Geneva is heavily involved in quantum technology researchexternal link, including the EU QRANGEexternal link project that aims to create the world’s first ‘unhackable’ phone. The university will explore how QKD encryption systems can better protect sensitive data, such as hospital patient data.

Quantum technology is an area of physics dealing with the tiny energy levels of atoms and sub-atomic particles, rather than electrons. It could boost efficiency in computing, encryption, communication and other sectors.

The European Commission agreed to fund the OPENQKD project following calls for proposals from the Horizon 2020 research programme. It believes the technology can “boost the security of critical applications in the fields of telecommunications, health care, electricity supply and government services”.

The project will run in Austria, Spain, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Italy, Britain, Greece and the Czech Republic, focusing on key infrastructure – including telecoms – and securing medical, governmental or electricity grid data.

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