The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has announced the establishment of a Quantum Computing Applications Lab in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS). The move will give select researchers, scientists access to Amazon’s Braket cloud-based quantum computing service.
“The area of quantum computing is at a very nascent stage in the country. The Lab is a great opportunity for our researchers, whether they are in educational institutions, in research labs or in the startup environment,” Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, MeitY said during the announcement. “With quantum computing, there is still a tremendous amount that all of us have to learn together. What exactly will it be useful for, how does it get applied to the scenario that we have within the country, these are the questions we must ask,” he added.
MeITY and AWS will call for proposals from the scientific, researcher community in February and early March as part of the announcement. A steering committee will then go through these proposals and approve ones which align with the goals decided on national priorities. The Lab will identify quantum computing problem statements for experimentation from among Central and State Governments, Research Institutions, and Academia.
The chosen proposals will get access to AWS credits to use the quantum computing cloud platform from Amazon. The Lab will then provide the applicants with access to quantum computing hardware, simulators, and programming tools, on-demand and at no cost, via Amazon Braket.
Researchers and scientists, whose proposals are chosen, will be expected to build experiments based on these. The final experiments will also be reviewed later on by the committee. Successful proposals will be selected for further enhancements and production. AWS will also provide technical support to the selected proposals.
The Meity Secretary also stressed that the government of India has a very large quantum related mission, which is being led by the Department of Science and Technology. “We also are looking at what kind of quantum computing capability we should build within the country with Indian effort,” he added.
“The Quantum Computing Application Lab in collaboration with AWS is the first lab on AWS that’s aligned to a government mission. We are trying to pull all of the resources needed to really build the capacity and the skills within India to be able to propagate this technology in a meaningful way,” Rahul Sharma, President, Public Sector – AISPL, AWS India and South Asia said during the announcement.
He added that the company wants to democratise quantum computing, and provide the right development environments that can take the heavy lifting away from researchers and developers working on quantum algorithms. “We want to build this in a scalable manner that can be accessible to all,” he said.
Quantum computing is an emerging field, which wants to take computing beyond what existing classical computers can achieve. Quantum computers rely on the laws of quantum mechanics to compute and solve problems. The idea is that these computers could one day solve problems which traditional computers are unable to do. Other than Amazon, players like IBM, Google and Microsoft are conducting research on quantum computing.