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Thomas Ehmer, Merck KGaA

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May 6, 2024
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Thomas Ehmer from Merck is interviewed by Yuval Boger. Thomas discusses the rapid advancements in quantum computing architectures, recent breakthroughs in logical qubits, and quantum communication protocols. He describes potential quantum applications in logistics optimization and material sciences, highlighting collaborative efforts within initiatives like QUTAC. Thomas contemplates the necessity of in-house quantum computing resources, reflects on Germany’s national investment in quantum technology, and much more.

Here are the key points from the podcast:

1. Thomas's Role at Merck KGaA: Thomas introduces himself as a co-founder at Merck KGaA and highlights his long-term commitment to exploring novel technologies, especially in the realm of quantum computing. He leads a task force dedicated to integrating quantum technologies into the company's strategy.

2. Quantum Technology Exploration: About eight years ago, Thomas helped establish a quantum task force at Merck KGaA to evaluate the potential and practicality of adopting quantum technologies within the company.

3. Quantum Computing Community and Progress: Thomas notes significant progress in the quantum computing field, including advancements in quantum computing architectures nearing market readiness and developments in quantum communication. He emphasizes the strong sense of community among those working in quantum computing, even amidst concerns about an impending "quantum winter."

4. Applications of Quantum Computing: Thomas is skeptical about the immediate transformative impact of quantum computing on drug discovery, contrasting it with the ongoing reliance on more traditional computational methods. However, he remains optimistic about the potential applications in other areas like logistics and material science.

5. Future of Quantum Computing and AI: Comparing the impact of AI's "ChatGPT moment" to potential breakthroughs in quantum computing, Thomas expresses uncertainty about what a quantum equivalent might entail but speculates that it could involve innovations in secure communications.

6. Collaboration in Quantum Technology: Thomas discusses QUTAC (German Quantum Technology Application Consortium), which fosters collaboration among German companies to develop and apply quantum technologies. He highlights the consortium's efforts in sharing resources and evaluating quantum technology use cases across various industries.

7. Integration and Challenges: Thomas touches on the challenges of integrating quantum computing into current business operations and the dialogue between quantum researchers and other departments within Merck, such as drug development.

8. National Investment in Quantum: Thomas appreciates the federal funding in Germany that supports quantum projects, acknowledging that while immediate returns are slow, the investment fosters a more tech-savvy environment among decision-makers.

This conversation provides an insightful look into the practical and strategic considerations of implementing quantum technologies in a large, diversified company like Merck KGaA.

Listen here.

Read transcript here.

Listen to the podcast or read the transcript


Thomas Ehmer
Business Technology R&D Science & Technology - Innovation Lead at Merck Group
Listen to the podcast or read the transcript

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