BCG Henderson Institute

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After decades of research, quantum computers are close to becoming a reality. Several technological breakthroughs have been announced in recent times, and investments in the field reached an all-time high in 2021. The myriad benefits of quantum computing, from optimizing logistics networks to revolutionizing drug discovery, are knocking at our door.

If the European Union (EU) wishes to capture some of those benefits, it must improve its present position with regard to developing and using quantum systems. Otherwise, the EU will yield ground to the US and China, and lose the chance to become a technological powerhouse.

Current Position. Many countries are engaged in a global tussle for leadership in quantum computing. Becoming a leader will require achieving success on three fronts: support from government entities, commitment from private companies, and attention to developing talent. In this report, we will evaluate the major players’ positions on these three dimensions to understand the EU’s current and future status.

Our research indicates that the US is currently the front-runner, leading its peers on every dimension, especially in private-sector efforts. A trio of pursuers—the UK, China, and the EU—are well positioned too, particularly in terms of government support and talent pools.

The EU is among the leaders in public investment and has adopted robust plans, such as the European Commission’s Quantum Flagship. But the US remains ahead in winning patents, setting up startups, and making investments, with China in hot pursuit. The EU is also among the world’s leaders in producing talent, along with the US and China.

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