First-Ever International Quantum Hackathon Unites Academia, Corporate, and Venture Capital

The inaugural International Quantum Hackathon at the Czech Technical University in Prague marked a historic moment as the first event of its kind in the Czech Republic, bringing together academia, corporate leaders, and venture capital in a unique collaboration.

This pioneering hackathon attracted 44 young talents from around the globe, bringing together nine student teams to tackle complex challenges using cutting-edge quantum technologies. Over the course of two intense days, participants addressed a wide range of issues, from mine detection in oceans and advancements in medical technology to energy security and space exploration. The winning team, Tangus, consisted of students from FIT ČVUT and a high school student from SPŠE Plzeň. They developed an innovative solution for detecting mines in seas and oceans, which has potential applications for both civilian cargo ships and navies.

Second place went to the Quties team for their Quantum Radar project aimed at improving medical screening technologies. The third place was awarded to Toobee for their orbital cleanup solution using quantum optimization and satellites for mechanical debris collection.

Investor specialists from Tensor Ventures, together with experts from IBM, were on site at the hackathon to ensure that the ideas were not only technologically viable but also capable of bringing significant opportunities to the real world and business. Their mentorship was crucial in bridging the gap between academic innovation and market potential, providing participants with insights into commercializing their quantum solutions.

Quantum Day: A Hub for Quantum Technology Insights

Following the hackathon, the Quantum Day conference provided a platform to showcase the latest trends in quantum technologies, inspiring stories from promising startups, and celebrate the achievements of the student teams. Top experts from academia, industry, and government discussed the potential of quantum technologies to address real-world problems.

Among the distinguished speakers were Vice Premier Ivan Bartoš and Minister for Science, Research, and Innovation Marek Ženíšek, who both emphasized the crucial role of quantum technologies in shaping the future. “I’m glad to see Venture Capital active in quantum. We can’t do this without the private sector,” said Ivan Bartoš in his welcome speech at Quantum Day. They outlined four key priorities for success: international collaboration, participation in European projects, investing in people, and technology transfer. 

Pioneering the Quantum Frontier

Tensor Ventures is the only local venture capital fund actively investing in quantum startups. Represented by their General Partner, Martin Drdul shared insights on investing in this cutting-edge field. “We have companies in Poland, Germany, and America, but having a Czech quantum startup in our portfolio would be like planting a flag on the moon,” Drdul remarked. 

He emphasized the importance of moving from words to action, showcasing Tensor Ventures’ pioneering approach in building a complementary quantum portfolio and actively working with startups.

Witold Jarnicki, co-founder of the quantum software startup BEIT, also took the stage to share the journey of their innovative business. Jarnicki highlighted the combination of technical competence, rapid progress, early revenue from hybrid solutions, and a long-term vision to transform the world with their innovation. He candidly discussed the mistakes made along the way and underscored the importance of a diverse team in driving success.

The Future of Quantum Technology

The conference featured several panel discussions and lectures, with a significant focus on the impact of quantum technologies on security. “The biggest threat is neglecting this field. The key is to maintain and build upon the momentum we’ve started,” stated Martin Švík, IBM’s Technology Director for Northern, Central, and Eastern Europe.

The first-ever International Quantum Hackathon and the subsequent Quantum Day showcased the incredible potential of quantum technologies and the vibrant ecosystem supporting its growth. With the active involvement of investors like Tensor Ventures, corporate giants like IBM, academic leaders from ČVUT, and support from CzechInvest, the future of quantum technology in the Czech Republic looks promising and poised for groundbreaking advancements. This landmark event has set the stage for continued innovation and collaboration in the field of quantum technologies.

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