The Sunday Business Post features IrelandQCI

The IrelandQCI consortium of partners, pictured at the IrelandQCI Plenary, held in February 2024 at the SFI CONNECT Centre. From left to right, Sinéad Whelan SETU, Gary McManus SETU, Avishek Nag UCD, Jerry Horgan SETU, John Regan ESB Telecoms, Dr. Deirdre Kilbane SETU, Martin Quinless HEAnet, Prof. Dan Kilper TCD, Prof. Jiri Vala Maynooth University, Eoin Kenny HEAnet, Pat Kelly TCD,
Friday, April 26, 2024 - 15:00


The Sunday Business Post features IrelandQCI

On Sunday 21st April 2024, the Sunday Business Post featured IrelandQCI in a supplement in collaboration with Waterford City and County Council:

SETU’s Walton Institute leads €10m cybersecurity project


SETU’s Walton Institute is leading the €10m IrelandQCI project on behalf of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre CONNECT, jointly funded by the European Commission, ESA and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.   A consortium of partners - including Prof Jiri Vala, Dept of Theoretical Physics -  is currently one year into the two-and-a-half-year project. 

IrelandQCI, Ireland Quantum Communication Infrastructure, is part of an EU-wide quantum initiative aiming to establish national quantum communications infrastructures across 27 member states. The goal is to secure critical infrastructure using quantum physics.

‘Quantum 2030: A National Quantum Technologies Strategy for Ireland’, outlines Ireland’s quantum strategy and the national plans for Ireland to become an internationally competitive hub for quantum technology and advancement by the year 2030.

SETU’s Walton Institute is leading the €10m IrelandQCI project on behalf of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre CONNECT, jointly funded by the European Commission, ESA and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. A consortium of partners is currently one year into the two-and-a-half-year project.

“We are just 12 months into this ground-breaking project being led by Walton Institute at SETU,” said Dr Deirdre Kilbane, Director of Research at SETU’s Walton Institute.

“IrelandQCI will create a secure communication infrastructure that will benefit not only the government, industry, and academia, but wider Irish society. We are very proud to be making a significant contribution to the quantum technologies space, positioning Ireland for future investment opportunities and collaboration on an international scale.”

The goal of IrelandQCI is to establish an ultra-secure communication network for transferring sensitive information. Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), a method of communication based on sharing encryption keys using quantum physics in a manner that boosts security.

Classical networks use ‘bits’ – 1s and 0s – to encrypt data and send it across fiber-optic cables along with keys to decode the information. Quantum networks rely on ‘qubits’ (superposition of 1s and 0s) that leave a trace if tampered with by a hacker. This ultimately ensures a secure infrastructure against cybersecurity attacks.

This will make tomorrow’s data far more protected than it is today, and help advance security in the telecommunications sector, for the country.

The work being done in IrelandQCI will deliver huge advances to keep up with the fast-paced, evolving, technological landscape including artificial intelligence and the big data revolution.

Quantum has a variety of potential applications, across many sectors including healthcare, industry, finance, tech, energy, and more.

A quantum communication infrastructure will provide real-time collaboration, remote sensing and advanced data analytics, revolutionising technology, advancing our telecommunications sector, and overall benefiting society in Ireland as a whole.

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. There are also several university partners that are making this project a reality.

The consortium includes Walton Institute at SETU, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork’s Tyndall National Institute, University College Dublin, Maynooth University, and the Irish Centre for High End Computing at University of Galway, all of which are members of CONNECT.

In July, IrelandQCI will host quantum communication experts from Europe at a three-day event in Ireland, filled with quantum technology workshops, key stakeholder meetings with government, industry, academia and policy makers, and networking with the national and international quantum community.

Furthermore, the Quantum Technology Engineering and Testing Facility in Walton Institute will be used for R&D testing of quantum devices, and for providing training and workshops to educate key stakeholders and the quantum technology workforce.

“We already have a huge interest in our QCI Ireland Event in July,” said Kilbane.  ”Our researchers will have the opportunity to showcase ongoing work in quantum technologies to both national and international stakeholders in attendance; there will be key stakeholder addresses and workshops as well as networking opportunities amongst experts from across academia and industry.

There is terrific excitement surrounding the IrelandQCI project, and the benefits the provision of a national quantum network will bring to Ireland.

At Walton Institute, we are proud to lead the fantastically strong consortium of partners working on IrelandQCI and are excited for the future as the project progresses.”

See the article in full on page 7