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European quantum computing startup planqc has secured a €29m ($32m) contract from German Aerospace Center (DLR) to develop a digital neutral-atom-based quantum computer.

Based in Munich’s Quantum Valley, planqc will be required to build a 100-qubit computer in three and a half years.

The quantum computer will be installed in the DLR Innovation Center in Ulm, Germany.

DLR expects planqc to develop a scalable quantum computer, which will be integrated into DLR’s quantum computing stack under the DLR Quantum Computing Initiative (DLR QCI).

Quantum computing technology is said to be capable of solving complex problems much faster than regular supercomputers.

It can be used in fields such as designing new drugs or materials, as well as tackling problems in areas like transportation, energy, and finance.

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Areas identified by DLR where quantum computers can be used include quantum materials, machine learning, satellite optimisation, and simulation of chemical reactions for more efficient batteries.

DLR QCI hardware lead Karla Loida said: “The QCI pursues different technological approaches to investigate their respective advantages and disadvantages. With this project, we are adding another promising technology to our quantum computer portfolio at the Ulm site.”

Founded just over a year ago, planqc is also working with partners Menlo Systems and ParityQC who will provide critical components for the laser systems, software, and architecture.

planqc CEO and co-founder Alexander Glätzle said: “We are very proud that DLR relies on planqc as the technology leader in the field of neutral atoms to build a quantum computer.

“This order is an important milestone in our commercialisation and growth strategy, which envisages expanding into other key industries and opening up global markets as a next step.”