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On the way to a secure network for quantum communication in Europe

Austrian-led European Consortium paves the way for pan-European Quantum Communication Network

Vienna, 2. September 2019 (AIT): Europe is starting the next phase of bringing digital high-tech to the market. The next phase in launching leading world-class technology onto the market has now been initiated, and builds on Europe’s leading role in science and research into quantum technologies. Within the new comprehensive EU initiative OPENQKD, leading European science and research organisations have joined forces with industry actors and stakeholders from several application areas and markets in order to build quantum technology demonstrators and new sustainable and secure applications, thereby contributing to Europe’s future strategic autonomy in the digital age. The consortium is led by the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology.

In the next decade, all our private and business infrastructures will be turned upside down by the emergence of new disruptive digital technologies and applications. Data integrity, authenticity and privacy will become even more important in tomorrow’s society, and next generation encryption technologies will play a vital role in protecting our data against future cyber threats. OPENQKD, an EU H2020 project (857156), is set to implement a pan-European quantum key distribution (QKD) network, addressing applications based on fibre as well as satellite communication infrastructure. The goal is to create the world’s most secure encryption technology in order to protect European data storage and communication networks, technology which is secure enough even to withstand attacks from advanced quantum computers.

QKD use case demonstrations

The technology and research results of the 3-year OPENQKD initiative will be implemented in various use cases in a range of application areas, such as telecommunications, electricity, healthcare, finance, transport and government. Several European countries are joining forces to achieve a high level of synergy and build a critical mass of competence and implementation capabilities in order to secure a leading global position in this field.

QKD networks and application demonstrations for next generation security applications will be implemented in several European countries, including Austria, Spain, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Italy, the UK, Greece and the Czech Republic, focusing on different objectives and approaches at a variety of demonstration sites. This ensures OPENQKD is operating on a truly European scale. 

OPENQKD also addresses the development of a European ecosystem for technology providers and application developers, and identifies new use cases by supporting start-ups and SMEs, as well as offering test facilities to new stakeholders.

As a means of achieving these ambitious goals, the OPENQKD consortium consists of 38 partners from 13 European countries as well as Israel, including manufacturers, network operators, system integrators, SMEs, RTOs, universities, certification & standardization bodies and end users, and covering a wide range of competences. The consortium is led by the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology which has already coordinated OPENQKD’s predecessor, SECOQC (Secure Communication based on Quantum Cryptography, 2004–2008), a 40-partner initiative to establish a multinode QKD network in Vienna. Austria is again taking a key role by hosting one of the main OPENQKD testbeds in Vienna and Graz. This involves AIT, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Medical University of Graz, fragmentiX Storage Solutions GmbH and Citycom Telekommunikation GmbH.

"Thanks to the consistent promotion of research in the field of quantum technology over the past 15 years, Austria has achieved an international leading position in the field of quantum encryption, thereby helping to shape European high-tech development. The use of forward-looking technologies such as quantum communication and the associated very high data security is an important building block for a secure, networked, digital Europe of tomorrow and a central element for European sovereignty in a highly critical area of technology. This gives Austria as an industrial location the opportunity to become an international technology supplier in a high-tech area of digitisation, to occupy market positions at an early stage in the development of an emerging quantum industry and thus to strengthen and expand its global competitiveness," says Dr. Gernot Grimm, Head of Section III - Innovation and Telecommunications at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology.

Hannes Hübel, AIT scientist and OPENQKD project leader: “After demonstrating the successful basic concept during the course of SECOQC in Vienna in 2008, quantum-based cryptography has matured. So now we are proud to be bringing quantum technology to a marketable level, ready to be deployed in everyday applications.”

Helmut Leopold, Head of Center for Digital Safety & Security, AIT: “Through the European OPENQKD initiative, Europe is building on its leadership role in science and technology in the quantum technologies sector. It is fostering strong cooperation between research, industry and the public sector, developing an innovative ecosystem which will open up new perspectives for a secure digital Europe, and building the foundations for next generation communication technologies.”

Quantum Technology Research @ AIT

The AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is Austria’s largest research and technology organisation and a specialist in the key infrastructure issues of the future. In the context of comprehensive and global networking and digitalisation, the Center for Digital Safety & Security is developing modern information and communication technologies (ICT) and systems designed to establish secure and reliable critical infrastructure.

AIT experts in the field of Optical Quantum Technologies focus on system design and integration of quantum cryptography solutions as well as product development using quantum inspired technologies to support research & development activities in quantum optics and other applied research fields such as life sciences. The goal of this AIT core topic is to bring quantum technology from the laboratory to the customer.

More Information on OPENQKD: https://www.openqkd.eu/


Michael Mürling
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
Marketing and Communications
Center for Digital Safety & Security
M +43 (0)664 2351747
michael.muerling(at)ait.ac.at  |  www.ait.ac.at

Daniel Pepl
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
Corporate and Marketing Communications
T +43 (0)50550 4040
daniel.pepl@ait.ac.at | www.ait.ac.at

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