Minister Ossian Smyth joins representatives from the European Commission, European Space Agency, six national universities and industry partners of IrelandQCI (Quantum Communication Infrastructure) for extensive 3-day quantum communication technology conference in Dublin. 
Quantum technology specialists from across Europe are gathering at the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin city this week for a 3-day conference organised by the IrelandQCI Project Leads at Walton Institute in South East Technological University (SETU). Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, with special responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth T. D., was delighted to address attendees today, Tuesday 2 July 2024, an audience made up of representatives from the European Commission, European Space Agency and technology specialists from across Irish and European industry and academia.

The €10m Ireland Quantum Communications Infrastructure (QCI) project, almost one and a half years into its 30 month duration, is one of several EuroQCI projects across the European Union which sees the European Commission working with 27 Member States, as well as the European Space Agency, towards the deployment of a secure quantum communication infrastructure spanning the EU. The €10m project, co-funded by the European Commission and the Irish government's Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, is working to create an innovative quantum technology ecosystem, future-proofing Ireland’s communications infrastructure against cyber-attacks.

The IrelandQCI team is working to establish Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) infrastructure along a major network backbone from Dublin to Cork via Waterford using a quantum channel integrated with existing classical fibre systems. 

The project will trial 16 quantum security technology scenarios with key stakeholders across the general public, industry and academic sectors over the project duration. 

This week’s QCI Ireland event in Dublin spans 3 days of industry and academic stakeholder engagement, workshops, training and technology specialist addresses from representatives of the European Commission’s PETRUS network - the organisation coordinating the deployment of EuroQCI - and will see over 150 attendees each day.  

Opening remarks today were delivered by John Regan, Managing Director of ESB Telecoms, who then introduced Ossian Smyth T.D. who commented on the importance of the IrelandQCI project and Ireland’s fantastic collaborative efforts with the EU and wider EuroQCI territories. Minister Smyth said,  “I’m delighted that the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is co-funding the IrelandQCI project with the European Commission. With the creation of secure communication network, this project represents a major step forward in our ability to protect and encrypt communications. Working collaboratively with European partners through the EuroQCI initiative is a key pillar of the project and I’m glad to see members of other European QCI projects in attendance. I’d like to commend the Walton Institute for organising today’s event which has brought together a wide range of stakeholders from across many different industries. Today’s event will benefit both the IrelandQCI project and stakeholders in attendance through collaboration and knowledge-sharing.”

Waterford’s Walton Institute in SETU is leading the €10 million IrelandQCI project, on behalf of SFI CONNECT. Several national universities and research centres make up the consortium of partners involved in the project, including quantum technology experts from Trinity College Dublin, UCC’s Tyndall National Institute, UCD, Maynooth University and the Irish Centre for High End Computing at University of Galway, and industry partners HEAnet and ESB Telecoms. These academic and industry specialists are pooling their expertise and resources to achieve success in adding an extra security layer to Ireland’s communications infrastructure and the data it transmits. 

Project Lead and Director of Research at Walton Institute, Dr Deirdre Kilbane, commented: “This event is an excellent coming-together of the quantum communication community not only from across Ireland but across Europe, gathering here in Dublin for knowledge-sharing. There are sectors represented here today spanning not only STEM industries but also health, security, education, finance, telecommunications and more. IrelandQCI will create a secure communication infrastructure that will benefit not only government, industry, and academia, but wider Irish society. At Walton Institute, we are very proud to lead this event, and we are delighted with the success of this week’s QCI Ireland event in bringing so many of our stakeholders together. We are glad to welcome our European colleagues to Dublin and to hear the success stories from other EuroQCI territories.”

HEAnet and ESB Telecoms are key partners in the project, as the quantum communications network is being built across the dark fibre optic network of ESB Telecoms parallel to the existing HEAnet backbone between Dublin, Waterford and Cork. 

Managing Director of ESB Telecoms, John Regan, commented: ‘’ESB Telecoms, in its pioneering role in the Ireland QCI consortium, is committed to shaping Ireland's quantum future. We take immense pride in providing the vital fibre optic backbone for the project. Quantum technology will ensure the security of our digital infrastructure well into the future. This conference is a testament to the unwavering dedication of Ireland QCI, the European Commission, the European Space Agency and our consortium partners in this crucial project."  

Overseas EuroQCI attendees at the event include representatives from the UK, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Cyprus and Greek quantum communication infrastructure projects. 

Project Director at Deutsche Telekom PETRUS and Nostradamus Progammes at the European Commission, Keith Elder, commented: ‘’Petrus, as the Coordination and Support Action (CSA) for the national deployment projects funded under the Digital Europe Program for EuroQCI, along with the consortium partners Deutsche Telekom, Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thales SIX and Airbus, is pleased to be able to participate in this important event, giving Petrus the opportunity to work closely with various stakeholders involved in EuroQCI from different Member States, QCI projects, academia, and manufacturers. This will allow Petrus and the participants to exchange ideas based on the experience gained in the various projects to build on the foundations already laid for EuroQCI and to extend the roadmap to a full deployment. There are a large number of activities in the field, and with the support of the European Commission, projects are advancing the knowledge, the technology and the understanding of the end user benefits of QKD services. Bringing all this experience together in Ireland is a great opportunity for the community to share their experience and knowledge.’’

Industry experts across the agenda include speakers from Toshiba, BT, ID Quantique, Mbryonics, BME, QT Labs and Quantum Industries. Key local representatives include attendees from Government Networks, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, ComReg, INEX, IBM, Airbus, ESB Networks and more. The agenda includes quantum flagship, vendor and use case workshops, community cooperation and sustainability plans, international deployments, and various insightful panel discussions.