June 26 2017, an early summer evening. Guests gather at the Allard Pierson Museum in the heart of Amsterdam. National and international company representatives and senior QuSoft researchers meet and greet with the rector magnificus of the University of Amsterdam, a member of the European Parliament, and several other guests and colleagues who share an interest in research and development of quantum software in the Netherlands.
Hosts of the evening are IXA UvA-HvA* and QuSoft. The dinner tonight is a pleasurable opportunity for QuSoft and QuSoft’s industrial relations to explore their mutual goals and expectations towards collaboration. No deals will be made during this evening, but getting to know each other better over dinner is the best starting point for future deals.
More than thirty people raise their glasses to rector prof. Karen Maex after she has explained the name given to tonight’s gathering, the Barlaeus dinner. Caspar Barlaeus was one of the two first professors of the University of Amsterdam. In 1632 Barlaeus give his first lecture on the subject of the Mercator Sapiens, the wise merchant. The title of his speech illustrated how the founder of the new university, the City of Amsterdam, looked upon their university: it was to be the place where the sons of the Amsterdam burghers learnt the things that would make them both knowledgeable in the sciences and arts of that era and also able tradesmen.
After a brief talk by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Dutch member of the European Parliament, who has been a great advocate of Quantum becoming the new Flagship project of the European Commission, QuSoft’s executive director prof. Harry Buhrman sketches in a brief overview where we now stand with Quantum Software and proposes the topics to be discussed over dinner. One table’s focus is on issues of quantum cryptography, one on quantum networks, one on quantum simulation and one on quantum algorithms.
And indeed, at the four round tables the dinner guests are seen talking animatedly for more than two hours. People from large established firms and from smaller start-ups ask questions, air their needs and concerns, and researchers explain and clarify things or voice their points of view on issues brought up by their international guests. When IXA UvA-HvA director Dr. Mirjam Leloux has wrapped up the dinner conversations by highlighting a few interesting observations from each table, Kareljan Schoutens, QuSoft’s co-director, brings the evening to a close by expressing his pleasure and promising the participants that it is QuSoft’s express wish to continue the relationships that have been strengthened this evening. Looking back, Karen Maex remarks: ”Innovation starts by people meeting and interacting, as in a web structure, and I believe these interactions also can feed fundamental research with new insights.” The evening probably would have caused a big smile of satisfaction on the face of Caspar Barlaeus.
* IXA UvA-HvA, the Innovation Exchange office of the University of Amsterdam and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, is the expert interface between Amsterdam-based academic institutions and parties interested in their research findings and knowledge.