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Google, GESDA and XPRIZE launch new competition in Quantum Applications

Today, Google Quantum AI and are joining XPRIZE and the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) to launch XPRIZE Quantum Applications, a 3-year, $5 million global competition to apply quantum computing to solve real-world challenges.

The competition, which kicks off today, aims to generate quantum computing algorithms that can be put into practice (today or in the future) to help achieve societally beneficial goals, like those described by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The competition is closely aligned with Google Quantum AI’s focus on building a large-scale, error corrected quantum computer, and developing useful quantum computing applications, and it builds on’s support for applying emerging technology to large, global challenges — especially as related to the SDGs.

a video describing XPRIZE Quantum Applications

Why this prize, and why now?

Quantum computers hold huge potential to help address societal challenges. For example, in recent research Google showed how quantum computers could be used for accelerating drug development, designing new battery materials, or engineering more efficient fusion reactors. However, most quantum algorithms have been studied primarily in the context of abstract mathematical problems. Less work has gone into assessing those algorithms for specific, real-world use cases. Likewise, much less effort has gone into quantifying how large a quantum computer is needed for a decisive quantum advantage over classical computing in such problems. While there are many reasons to be optimistic about the potential of quantum computing, we’re still somewhat in the dark about the full scope of how, when, and for which real-world problems this technology will prove most transformative. We hope launching this prize will help to shed light on these questions — by incentivizing the community to advance and more thoroughly anticipate the positive impact of quantum computing on society.

XPRIZE Quantum Applications will address both near-term applications for today’s Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum (NISQ) processors (which do not yet exist), and applications for large scale, fault tolerant quantum computers of the future. While we believe there are useful applications to be discovered in the NISQ era, most of quantum computing’s impact will come once we’ve built large-scale quantum computers — and we can identify those applications now, so we have them ready to deploy as we build more capable hardware.

Competition details

XPRIZE Quantum Applications is designed to reward research contributions which most advance the field of quantum algorithms towards real-world applications. XPRIZE has assembled a well-regarded cross-sectoral group of experts to serve as advisors and judges for the competition, which will take place over the next three years.

In a qualifying submission, teams will describe a socially beneficial application they aim to solve and provide an analysis of how long their algorithm would need to run on a quantum computer before reaching a solution. Up to 20 teams will share a $1 million prize purse and advance to the Finals. The semi-finalist teams will describe the hardware specifications needed to run their quantum algorithm, provide evidence that it is faster and/or more accurate than a classical computer solution, and project the positive impact it would have on broader society if it could be implemented on real quantum hardware. A $3 million purse will be allocated among up to 3 grand prize winners, and $1 million will be split among runners-up.

Learn more and get involved

To learn more, get involved, or comment on a public draft of the prize scoping and competition guidelines, you can register on the prize website.

Google is committed to supporting responsible innovation; just as important as finding useful applications is the competition’s collaborative approach and focus on beneficial applications, in line with the SDGs. Quantum computers are very costly to build, and as a result many are likely to focus on the most lucrative potential applications. We believe it’s critical to specifically identify applications that could benefit society and to include innovators from diverse geographies and backgrounds from other relevant domains in our collective endeavor to discover useful applications. We encourage other funders across the government, industry and nonprofit sectors to do the same.

The XPRIZE Quantum Applications competition is an opportunity to shape a future where quantum computers help tackle the world's most complex problems, in areas like sustainability, energy and health. But the scale of this challenge demands a collaborative approach — please join us!

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