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Google and XPRIZE Are Awarding $5 Million to Anyone Who Develops Quantum Computing Algorithms For Real Life. Here's What The Technology Can Do. Google and XPRIZE want to reward individuals who can figure out real-world applications for complex technology.

By Sherin Shibu

Key Takeaways

  • Google is funding a $5 million competition on quantum computing.
  • The competition attempts to get applicants to think critically about how quantum algorithms apply to the real world and develop solutions.
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Google, the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA), and XPRIZE launched a competition Monday that will award $5 million over three years to teams who can find real-life applications for quantum computers.

Quantum computers process information differently from the regular, classical computers in use today, which allows them to complete certain tasks in shorter periods of time. Google researchers found in 2019 that a quantum computer took 200 seconds to complete a task that a high-performing supercomputer, which IBM estimates can have a million times more processing power than a standard laptop, would take 10,000 years to complete.

The problem that the XPRIZE competition sets out to solve is the disconnect between quantum algorithms and the real world. Applicants should be working on quantum algorithms that address sustainability and social impact.

The contest is open to anyone across the world working in any field. Winners will have submissions that "most accelerate" quantum algorithms for "positive real-world applications," according to the competition guidelines.

Applicants can submit a new quantum algorithm, a new application of an existing algorithm, or enhanced performance in the form of fewer resources to run an established algorithm. The University of Chicago, IBM, Microsoft, and Purdue University are some of the many institutions that offer courses on quantum computing.

Registration is open on the XPRIZE website.

Related: Quantum Computing Threatens Everything — Could it be Worse Than the Apocalypse?

A cryostat from a quantum computer stands during a press tour of the Leibniz Computing Center. Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa (Photo by Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

Quantum computing is a focus area for many tech giants, with McKinsey estimating a record $2.35 billion in investments in 2022. The McKinsey report further suggests that four industries are likely to see the earliest benefits of quantum computing: automotive, chemicals, financial services, and life sciences.

Related: Why This Technology Will Surge This Year and How You Can Capitalize On It

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna spoke to the Duke Fuqua School of Business last April about the benefits of quantum computing, and about how business minds were essential to determine the right use cases for the technology.

"So, you need to work on what kind of algorithms, which use case can leverage those algorithms, and the technology," Krishna told the outlet.

IBM and Google gave $150 million last year to advance quantum computing research at the University of Chicago and the University of Tokyo.

Sherin Shibu

Entrepreneur Staff

News Reporter

Sherin Shibu is a business news reporter at Entrepreneur.com. She previously worked for PCMag, Business Insider, The Messenger, and ZDNET as a reporter and copyeditor. Her areas of coverage encompass tech, business, strategy, finance, and even space. She is a Columbia University graduate.

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