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ICTP to Inaugurate New Quantum Technologies Institute

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On 25 March, UNESCO’s Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) will launch a new institute dedicated to the study of quantum technologies. The Trieste Institute for Theoretical Quantum Technologies (TQT) is a joint initiative with the University of Trieste and the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA). The new centre will provide a hub for the partners’ research and training activities on this topic.

The creation of the institute comes as the ICTP builds on a series of recent successes in the field of quantum technologies. On 9 November 2018, Marcello Dalmonte from ICTP’s Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics Section learned that he was among the recipients of a research grant offered by a major European initiative to develop quantum technology called the Quantum Flagship.
The European Commission has endowed the Quantum Flagship with €1 billion over the next 10 years. For the first three-year phase, Marcello Dalmonte will be acting as co-principal investigator of a research project that will focus on quantum simulation, one of the Flagship’s five research themes. Quantum simulators study quantum systems, such as the atomic make-up of materials or chemical reactions, performing tasks that are too complex for the most powerful, transistor-based classical computers.

In early 2017, ICTP researcher Antonello Scardicchio was awarded a Google Faculty Research Award for work related to quantum computing. The US$72,000 in seed funding will be used to support graduate students and postdoctoral associates working in his group.

‘Researchers in computer science and physics see quantum computation as being the next frontier. Quantum computing promises a future of unprecedented computing speed,’ says Scardicchio, before adding that ‘this is slowly becoming a reality, with IBM and Google already producing quantum computing chips that will someday drive a quantum machine. The creation of the first quantum computer will certainly have an impact on artificial intelligence (AI) by enabling us to solve more complex problems.’

The TQT will provide a hub for the study of the future of AI on quantum devices, offering in parallel a convenient link to private actors such as Google and IBM.

The ICTP first identified AI and data science as being critical areas for research and training in 2010, while brainstorming on the contours of its new multiyear strategic plan. The ICTP is currently recruiting a staff scientist in AI and data science.

The TQT will complement these activities, while providing a valuable venue for imparting cutting-edge knowledge to the thousands of scientists from developing countries who travel to the ICTP each year for education and training opportunities.

The Centre already has several conferences on quantum technology lined up for 2019. These include the Advanced School and Workshop on Ubiquitous Quantum Physics: the New Quantum Revolution from 18 to 22 February and the School on Advances in Condensed Matter Physics: New Trends and Materials in Quantum Technologies, which will run from 7 to 15 May.

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New Space Sustainability Rating Addresses Space Debris with Mission Certification System

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In early 2022, space organizations will be able to give their missions, including satellite launches and crewed missions, certifications for sustainability with the finalization of the Space Sustainability Rating (SSR).

With ever more satellites being launched each year, the risk of collisions and the proliferation of space debris continues to rise. This has created a need to find ways to maximize the long-term sustainability of the space environment and encourage responsible behaviour.

The SSR system aims to address these issues by quantifying the sustainable behaviour of space actors. These scores will be based on factors ranging from data sharing, choice of orbit, measures taken to avoid collisions, plans to de-orbit satellites on completion of missions, and even how well they can be detected and identified from Earth. The choice and characteristics of a launch provider will also have an impact on the score.

There will be bonus marks for adding optional elements, such as de-orbiting fixtures, which could be used for the active removal of the object once its operational lifetime has been fulfilled.

“The Forum is very glad to support such an innovative approach to a global challenge of space debris,” said Nikolai Khlystov, Lead for Mobility and Space, World Economic Forum. “Incentivizing better behaviour by having actors compete on sustainability will create a race to the top and eSpace at EPFL is a great organization to take the SSR to the next level.”

After a robust selection process involving close to 20 stakeholders, the EPFL Space Center (eSpace) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), based in Lausanne, has been selected to lead and operate the SSR, in preparation for the roll-out of the transparent system for scoring the space sustainability efforts of different space actors.

“Space sustainability is in eSpace’s DNA, as one of our research projects led to the creation of ClearSpace – a pioneer spin-off selected by ESA [European Space Agency] for the first debris removal mission. Hosting the SSR is a strategic move for our Center. With our experience and the partners that will support SSR at EPFL, Switzerland and international levels, we intend to initiate in 2022 what could be a game changer in the way space missions are carried out,” said Jean-Paul Kneib, Professor of Astrophysics and Director of eSpace.

“The SSR aims to influence behaviour by all spaceflight actors, especially commercial entities, and help bring into common usage the sustainable practices that we desperately require,” said Holger Krag, Head of ESA’s Space Safety Programme. “To achieve this, the SSR rating includes a peer-reviewed assessment of the short- and long-term risks that any mission presents to other operators and for our orbital environment in general.”

The SSR initiative was developed over the past two years by the Forum, the ESA and a joint team led by Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, with collaboration from BryceTech and the University of Texas at Austin, and it comes at a critical time. While satellites have long been used for navigation services, weather monitoring and television broadcasts, humankind’s reliance on space infrastructure is set to increase sharply with the launch of large constellations of small satellites designed to boost global internet access.

“The design process of the SSR catalysed a creative community of commercial firms, universities, government agencies and civil society organizations,” said Danielle Wood, Director of the Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab. “There is more important work to do in engineering research, policy-making and norm building to ensure that the global community can operate in space for decades to come. All of us who contributed to the SSR are committed to continuing this important work and we hope others will continue to join in.”

There are now nearly 4,000 active satellites in orbit, including the inhabited outposts of the International Space Station and the Tiangong Space Station, currently under construction. As many more organizations from many more countries prepare to launch new missions, this number is set to grow exponentially. The risk of collisions will inevitably increase and raise questions about the capacity of near-Earth orbit to accommodate so many objects safely and sustainably.

By voluntarily taking part in the new SSR system, spacecraft operators, launch service providers and satellite manufacturers will be able to secure one of four levels of certification which they can share externally to show their mission’s level of sustainability.

This will increase transparency, without disclosing any mission-sensitive or proprietary information. The goal is to incentivize good behaviour by all space actors in addressing the problem of space debris. A favourable score for a particular rated party might, for example, result in lower insurance costs or improved funding conditions from financial backers.

Over the two-year development period of the SSR, numerous operators within the space industry have been engaged in the evolution of the rating system and there is already widespread interest in this new tool. Several companies, including Airbus, Astroscale, AXA XL, elseco, Lockheed Martin, Planet, SpaceX and Voyager Space Holdings, have actively supported the SSR concept and expressed interest in participating once it is publicly launched.

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100 Start-ups Join WEF’s Technology Pioneers Community in 2021 Cohort

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The World Economic Forum announced today its 2021 Technology Pioneers, young and growing tech companies taking on top global concerns with innovative technologies and business models. From artificial intelligence (AI) to fintech, the 2021 Tech Pioneers cohort is using new tech to protect the climate, improve healthcare and much more.

“The 2021 cohort of Tech Pioneers includes many future headline makers at the forefront of their industries,” said Susan Nesbitt, Head of the Global Innovators Community, World Economic Forum. “These companies show great potential to not only shake up their industries but offer real solutions to global problems. They’ll bring great value to the World Economic Forum’s mission of improving the state of the world with their participation in the Technology Pioneers community.”

This year’s Technology Pioneers are emerging leaders in a wide range of industries that span healthcare, cleantech, AI, logistics and more. While at the cutting edge of their industries, many Technology Pioneers are also addressing global societal issues by using new tech to improve education options, address climate change issues and others.

Ceretai, for example, is a Technology Pioneer helping media companies uncover stereotypes and representation gaps in their content through automated diversity and equality analysis. Banyan Nation is using technology to support circular economy climate solutions in India. Century Tech is supporting personalized education options through combined innovations in learning science, AI and neuroscience.

This year’s cohort has the highest gender diversity yet, with over 30% of companies led by women. There are also 26 economies represented this year, with the United Arab Emirates, El Salvador, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe represented for the first time. All the 2021 Technology Pioneers are bringing great innovation to their regions.

FlexFinTx, for example, is building self-sovereign digital identities to help the over 400 million Africans that lack proper forms of identification. Meanwhile, Cambridge Industries is addressing climate change by developing sustainable city infrastructure to support waste-to-energy products.

Following their selection as Technology Pioneers, this year’s companies will join an impressive group of alumni that include many household names, such as Airbnb, Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Palantir Technologies, Spotify, TransferWise, Twitter and Wikimedia.

The 2021 cohort will also be invited to participate in World Economic Forum workshops events and high-level discussions throughout their two years in the community.

The 2021 Technology Pioneers include:

Africa

  • Cambridge Industries, Ethiopia: Innovating next-generation urban infrastructure through sustainable city parks
  • FlexFinTx, Zimbabwe: Building the next generation of identity management
  • Kuda Technologies, Nigeria: Providing Africans with access to credit and free banking services
  • Moringa School, Kenya:A workforce development platform serving African students
  • mPharma, Ghana:Building good health in Africa through technology-driven healthcare
  • Sokowatch, Kenya: Offering same-day delivery and working capital to African retailers

Asia Pacific

  • AI Medical Service, Japan: Developing the world’s first endoscopic AI for gastric cancer
  • Aspire, Singapore: Banking South-East Asia’s internet economy
  • Avant Meats, China: Biotechnology for healthy, tasty meats made sustainably without animals
  • Banyan Nation, India: Driving circular economy via technology-driven informal recycler integrative technology solutions
  • Black Lake Technologies, China: Cloud-based collaboration software empowering manufacturers with real-time data
  • Cinnamon, Japan: An AI platform to drive digital transformations
  • Civic Ledger, Australia: Helping the world reduce its water footprint
  • CredoLab, Singapore: Developing bank-grade digital credit scorecards built on mobile device metadata
  • DoBrain, Republic of Korea: Game-based learning to unlock and optimize children’s potential
  • Equota Energy, China: AI intelligence-based energy optimization, maintenance and carbon management company
  • HiNounou, China: Using AI to promote healthy ageing and intergenerational solidarity
  • Learnable, China: Interactive and explainable AI solutions on less data
  • MakinaRocks, Republic of Korea:Making industrial technology intelligent and delivering it as transformative solutions
  • mClinica, Singapore:Building the largest digital network of pharmacies in South-East Asia
  • Minieye, China: Using cutting-edge computer vision technology to lead automotive industry change
  • Ocean Protocol, Singapore: Unlocking the value of data – a new asset class
  • Praava Health, Bangladesh: A healthcare platform providing high-quality digital health and in-clinic experiences
  • SandStar, China: Providing leading computer vision technology for retail
  • Shannon Technology, China: A language-understanding intelligent service powered by advanced AI technology
  • Standard Energy, Republic of Korea:Manufacturer of vanadium ion batteries specifically for energy storage systems
  • Videonetics Technology, India:AI and deep learning-powered video computing platform development
  • Zyllem, Singapore:Software-as-a-service solution for logistics network management

Europe

  • Aave, United Kingdom: Built Aave Protocol, an open source and non-custodial liquidity protocol
  • Adhara, United Kingdom: Providing liquidity management and international payments for decentralized financial networks
  • Avrios, Switzerland: Empowering companies to own the true cost of mobility
  • Carbios, France: Green chemistry company providing an industrial solution to PET recycling
  • Century Tech, United Kingdom: Developing AI-based learning technologies
  • Ceretai, Sweden: Media diversity partner supporting companies with diversity strategies and insights
  • CloudNC, United Kingdom: Making manufacturing autonomous
  • Enapter, Italy: Providing green hydrogen technology through anion exchange membrane electrolyser manufacturing
  • EnginZyme, Sweden: Developing the definitive technology platform for sustainable chemical production
  • Greyparrot AI, United Kingdom: Waste recognition to increase transparency and automation in waste management
  • Hydrogenious, Germany: Enabling high-performing hydrogen value chains globally.
  • Parity Technologies, United Kingdom: Employing the blockchain pioneers who launched Ethereum, now building Polkadot
  • Polymateria, United Kingdom: A new scalable solution for the plastic pollution pandemic
  • Powell Software, France: Digital workplace solutions that improve the employee experience
  • PQShield, United Kingdom: Protecting information for the quantum era
  • Riaktr, Belgium: Developing software enabling telecom employees to make better data-driven decisions
  • Senseon, United Kingdom: A full-stack cyber-defence capability for the future, today

Latin America

  • Algramo, Chile: A platform connecting smart-reusable packaging with internet-of-things dispensers
  • Fondeadora, Mexico: Eliminating the inefficiencies related to the traditional banking system
  • Hugo Technologies, El Salvador: A multi-category marketplace for everyday products and services
  • Truora, Colombia: Fast, innovative, safe background checks and identity theft detection solutions

MENA

  • CHEQ, Israel: A global leader in customer acquisition security
  • CropX, Israel: Revolutionizing soil sensing, leading farmers into the connected soil era
  • MDClone, Israel: Self-service, big data, healthcare platform
  • MyndYou, Israel: Improving healthcare quality and lowering costs, engaging and listening
  • Phinergy, Israel: Clean energy generation and storage, using metals as energy carriers
  • Souqalmal, UAE: Building an online financial education platform in the Middle East

North America

  • 54gene, USA: Equalizing precision medicine
  • Airside Mobile, USA: Empowering businesses and people with privacy-based identity management
  • Akash Systems, USA: Manufacturing artificial diamond radios and satellites for low-cost internet access
  • AllStripes Research, USA: Unlocking new treatments for people affected by rare disease
  • Calibrate, USA: A telemedicine metabolic health business
  • CloudKnox, USA:Enabling organizations to implement least-privilege and zero-trust architecture
  • Crowdz, USA: Building a global ecosystem for good for receivables
  • DefinedCrowd, USA: A trusted data partner for AI
  • Diligent Robotics, USA: Building robots to support and empower patient care teams
  • Duality Technologies, USA: Enabling privacy-preserving collaboration and artificial intelligence on sensitive data
  • Dyndrite, USA: Powering the next generation of digital manufacturing
  • Enko Chem, USA:Crop health solutions, discovered and designed with intention
  • Evernym, USA:Leading globally in verifiable credential technology
  • FinMkt, USA: Omni channel and scalable point of sale financing software-as-a-service solutions
  • Gatik, USA: Developing and operating autonomous vehicles for B2B short-haul logistics
  • Gro Intelligence, USA: An AI-powered decision engine where ecology meets economy
  • Hazel Technologies, USA: Dedicated to solving the problem of food waste
  • HumanFirst, USA: Healthcare coming home, starting with digital clinical measures
  • Hypergiant, USA: Focusing critical infrastructure, space and defence using enterprise AI
  • Ionomr, Canada: Commercializing advanced ion-exchange materials to enable the hydrogen economy
  • January, USA: Analysing blood sugar and diet for diabetes control and prevention
  • Jopwell, USA: A diversity, equity and inclusion tech and human capital solution
  • Journera, USA: Helping brands improve marketing, customer experience and operations
  • Kobold Metals, USA: Deploying vanguard scientific computing to discover key battery material deposits
  • Kyndi, USA: Accurate and fast answers to any natural language question
  • LiveLike, USA: Converting passive audiences into engaged communities
  • Metabiota, USA: Building resiliency products and services for infectious disease threats
  • Mori, USA: Reducing waste and creating more sustainable supply chains
  • Natural Fiber Welding, USA: Creating circular and sustainable materials from plants and natural fibres
  • Numina, USA: Measuring street-level activity, privacy-first, to make the real world queryable
  • Pachama, USA: A tech-verified marketplace for nature-based carbon removals
  • Parsley Health, USA: Reversing chronic conditions with cutting-edge holistic medicine
  • Patientory, USA: Empowering users with insights from health data, improving health outcomes
  • Propel, USA: Helping low-income Americans make it through the month, every month
  • Propy, USA: An end-to-end real estate transaction platform facilitating transactions online
  • Reelgood, USA: An all-in-one streaming TV guide
  • Sinai Technologies, USA: Software to cost-effectively measure, analyse, price and reduce emissions
  • Skyhive, Canada: Optimizing human economies for companies, communities and countries
  • Tellus You Care:Improving eldercare with dignity and privacy
  • Unit21, USA: The command centre for risk, fraud and compliance
  • Upguard, USA: A cybersecurity platform that helps global organizations prevent data breaches
  • WooBloo, USA: Passionate about disrupting the smart home space
  • Wright Electric, USA: Building the next generation of aircraft – large, zero-emissions aircraft
  • Xanadu Quantum Technologies, Canada:A quantum technology company building fault-tolerant quantum computers using photonics
  • ZeroAvia, USA: The first practical zero-emissions, hydrogen-fuelled, powertrain technology provider for aviation

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An App to Ease Safety QR Check-Ins Wins the 2021 APEC App Challenge

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An app that makes it easy for people in the region to do their safety QR code check-ins, developed and designed by a team from Australia, has won the 2021 APEC App Challenge, held on the eve of the 2021 APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting (MRT). The announcement was made by Damien O’Connor, New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Export Growth, who chaired the meeting.

In its fifth year, the APEC App Challenge asked software developers and designers from across the region to build new mobile and web tools that can help the revival of the tourism sector and promote a safe and trustworthy travel environment, especially as the APEC region prepares for a resumption of travel.

The APEC 2021 host economy, New Zealand, has based the competition on a key priority for the forum this year: pursuing innovation and a digitally enabled recovery.

“As member economies work to facilitate the movement of people around the region, it is important to pursue digital tools that support the resumption of travel—when the time is right,” said Minister O’Connor.

“The safe resumption of cross-border travel will be critical to the region’s recovery,” Minister O’Connor said. “Returning to sustainable tourism numbers will support a wide range of businesses, boost employment, and underpin inclusive growth.”

Bryce Cronin and Saira Ambrose, who are from Australia, developed the OneQR Check-In app to help travelers scan and complete their safety check-ins quicker no matter the destination in the region. The winning team will receive a prize of USD 4,000.

“Around the region, people now need to do a safety check-in using a QR code before entering a venue,” said Ambrose. “As we prepare for a safe resumption of travel, QR check-ins will play an even more prominent role.”

The app works by showing travelers what QR check-in app they need to use or install when they travel to a different location. If the local check-in app has been installed on the traveler’s phone, OneQR will redirect travelers to the app. If not, OneQR will direct travelers to the phone’s app store to install the local safety check-in app.

“We believe that the safety check-in process should be quick, easy and simple,” Cronin explained. “Our app aims to assure travelers and hopefully contribute to building back the confidence of the tourism sector both for businesses and travelers.”

Held virtually from 14 May to 5 June, the coding competition, supported by The Asia Foundation and Google, attracted 170 participants from 13 APEC member economies.

Seirios, an app to help travelers rediscover local attractions with a COVID-19 safety rating, by an Australian team won second prize. Wanderer, an app that offers a safer shopping experience, by a Malaysian team won the third prize of the 2021 APEC App Challenge. The developers of Seirios and Wanderer will receive USD 3,000 and USD 2,000, respectively.

“The APEC App Challenge is not only a creative competition for young software developers and designers,” said Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, “it is a critical measure for addressing the current challenges within APEC where we need to bring together various stakeholders in the region, including the youth, to solve the biggest economic and health crisis of our generation, together.”

“This year’s App Challenge has highlighted an issue we’ve all been wondering about: how can we help generate income in communities that are heavily reliant on tourism and have been hit hard by the pandemic?” said John Karr, The Asia Foundation’s Senior Director of Technology Programs. “Participants have developed a range of solutions that highlight the ability of digital tools to help people discover safer and more local recreation opportunities, and—where it’s possible—get people moving again.”

“Tourism is vital to local economies and livelihoods across Asia-Pacific, and the impact of the pandemic has hit regional communities and small business owners especially hard,” said Scott Beaumont, President of Google Asia-Pacific. “There is a long road to recovery, but technology can help the industry rebuild and emerge stronger—and these brilliant developers are showing us the way.”

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