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The first International Quantum Hackathon at FIT CTU attracted 44 young talents from all over the world. Nine student teams worked for two days on solving problems using quantum technologies. The topics ranged from mine detection in the seas, to technologies in medicine, security in the energy sector and space technologies. The winning team consisted of students from Faculty of Information Technology of Czech Technical University in Prague and a high school student from the Secondary School of Economics in Pilsen (SPŠE Plzeň). Results were announced at the follow-up conference Quantum Day on 26 June 2024. Faculty of Information Technology (CTU FIT) and Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering (CTU FJFI) were the CTU organizers of both events together with the CzechInvest agency and partners IBM and Tensor Ventures.

The victory went to team Tangus composed of students from CTU FIT and a student from SPŠE Plzeň, who proposed a solution to the complex problem of mine detection in the seas and oceans usable for civilian cargo ships and the navy.

"We first got into quantum technologies a couple of years ago when we took a course on Quantum Programming at CTU FIT, which sparked our interest in quantum programming. The problem we were solving was based on my master's thesis on how to detect malware, i.e. malicious programs on a computer. It was a different case, but the idea is the same. I have a certain classification problem and I have few samples and I want to classify them somehow and we used quantum computing and machine learning to solve it. We had faith in winning, even though there were moments of crisis, and we are happy that it worked," says Ing. Eliška Krátká, a CTU FIT student.

The second place went to the Quties team, represented by students of CTU FIT, with Quantum Radar as a solution for screening technologies in medicine. Third place went to the Toobee team, composed of students from CTU FJFI and CTU FIT, for their orbital cleaning project with a solution using quantum optimization and the use of satellites for mechanical cleaning. "We are the garbage men who collect rocks in space," laughs Michael Wagner for the Toobee team.

The three winning teams will be received by Jaroslav Zajíček, Director of the Foreign Department of the Office of the President of the Republic at Prague Castle on Thursday 27 June.

The Quantum Hackathon was followed by the Quantum Day conference, which brought information about the latest trends in quantum technologies, stories of promising start-ups and the award ceremony for the successful student teams of the previous International Quantum Hackathon.

The programme of the second edition of the conference was attended by top experts from the scientific community, industry, investors and government organisations who discussed the possibilities of using quantum technologies to solve real-world problems. Among the opening speakers were Deputy Prime Minister for Digitalisation Ivan Bartoš and Minister for Science, Research and Innovation Marek Ženíšek. Both agreed that quantum technologies are key and are already shaping and will continue to shape our future. They stated that for the Czech Republic to be successful in global competition, it is essential that we intensively support research, education and technology transfer.

"Education will play a key role. Qualified professionals, not only highly qualified researchers, but also people who will be able to use quantum technologies in their daily lives. In terms of education, we have several university programmes in the Czech Republic, but it is still not enough. We need to intensify the education of students, because currently not enough graduates are coming out of schools with knowledge of quantum technologies. We need to popularise quantum technology among the young. That is why I am extremely happy that the International Quantum Hackathon took place, for the first time in the Czech Republic,actually. We need to make this area more attractive and attract the interest of young people. It was great that high school students were also at the hackathon - I think we will definitely hear from them again," added Petr Kavalíř, the Czech Government Commissioner for Quantum Technologies.

The conference offered several panel discussions and lectures. One big topic that was the focus of enitre large session was the impact of quantum technologies on cybersecurity.

"The biggest threat is that we don't pay attention to this problem, which is what I'm afraid of in the Czech Republic, lest we miss the train. But here I would like to extremely praise the cooperation with academia, and also the fact that the commercial sector has started to pull together. So the main thing is not to slow down in the efforts we have managed to start," replies Martin Švík, IBM's Chief Technology Officer for Northern, Central and Eastern Europe, adding: "I am extremely proud of everyone who was part of the hackathon. If someone is currently working on AI, they should also be working on quantum technologies, because it may soon become clear that the biggest benefits will come from this combination."

This event was implemented as part of the project Promoting Entrepreneurship, which is part of the National Recovery Plan, Component 1.4 Digital Economy and Society, Innovative Start-ups and New Technologies, funded by the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility.

Contact person: 
Ivana Macnarová, David Březina