According to a new report from the RAND Corporation, the United States is the world leader in some aspects of quantum information science (QIS), but still lags behind China in certain QIS areas.

The report, “An Assessment of the U.S. and Chinese Industrial Bases in Quantum Technology,” was completed by developing “a set of flexible and broadly applicable metrics for assessing a nation’s quantum industrial base, broadly defined, that attempt to quantify the strength of the nation’s scientific research, government activity, private industry activity, and technical achievement.”

Among the key findings in the report, RAND found:

  • The U.S.’ overall scientific research output in QIS is broad, stable, and at or near the global forefront in every application domain;
  • The United States is the primary funder of open QIS research and is on track to spend $710 million on QIS research and development (R&D) in 2021;
  • S. quantum is driven by the private sector, with a range of firms pursuing a variety of technical approaches and applications and no clear technical leader; and
  • The United States leads in demonstrated technical capability in quantum computing and sensing, but not communications.

China, on the other hand, is developing quantum technologies rapidly and has “high research output” in every quantum domain. Although, the report could not determine from public sources whether China is spending more than the United States, the country’s R&D is concentrated in government-funded laboratories.

Further, China leads in high-impact scientific publishing and demonstrated technical capability in quantum communications.

The report makes several recommendations for policymakers in strengthening quantum, including:

  • Continue providing a broad base of government R&D support across quantum, complementing the most active areas of private investment;
  • Monitor quantum programs of key U.S. quantum technologies firms;
  • Monitor the financial health and ownership of quantum start-ups;
  • Monitor international flows of key elements of the industrial base, like critical components and materials, skilled workers, and final quantum technology products;
  • Don’t impose export controls on quantum computers or quantum communications; and
  • Periodically reassess the rapidly changing quantum industrial base.
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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.