Quantum technology

Quantum leaps towards smarter chemical manufacturing

DTU is partnering with a world leader to leverage quantum-inspired algorithms in the manufacture of chemicals. The goal is to make the process of bringing new chemicals to market cheaper and faster and to create insights that can be applied to the manufacture of other products.

Researchers and students as well as new and well-established companies come to DTU’s Pilot Plant to test whether their ideas can be scaled up and become commercially viable. Photos: Jørgen True


Quantum-inspired algorithms are based on math that was originally pioneered by physicists to simulate complex quantum systems. They often involve highly complex constructions that can effectively represent correlations between variables.

Quantum-inspired algorithms can run on today’s classical hardware and can be adapted to run on quantum hardware in the future. This would speed up the transition from high performance computing to quantum machines. 

One widely used application of quantum-inspired algorithms is in high dimensional integration, which the financial industry uses to understand risk in complex financial models. The models typically require extensive so-called Monte Carlo simulations for running through a tremendous number of scenarios, which require a powerful classical computer to gain insights quickly and accurately. By doing so, critical decisions can be made that impact how a financial institution operates.

More recently, quantum-inspired algorithms have been used to solve optimization problems, particularly using quantum-inspired generative models. In a recent project with BMW, Zapata demonstrated the advantages of quantum-inspired generative models by applying them to a manufacturing scheduling problem. In the research, a quantum-inspired generative model generated new solutions that beat or tied the solutions generated by traditional state-of-the-art optimization algorithms in 71% of problem configurations.

This approach performed particularly well in problem configurations with the widest range of possible solutions, suggesting quantum-inspired algorithms can be a powerful tool for more complex optimization problems.

Revolutionary approach

Zapata Computing is named after the man who started the Mexican revolution – and listening to CEO Christopher Savoie it quickly becomes evident that his company shares Zapata’s zeal for bringing about radical change:

“Most CEOs of technology companies will say: ‘My technology is going to change the world’. They can be selling a dating app and they will tell you that. And so, it hurts me to hear these words coming out of my mouth, but this is really going to change the world in a very significant way in areas that we care about.”

There is no need for quantum computers when working with quantum-inspired algorithms. However, the algorithms which the partnership aims to develop have the potential of being transferrable to quantum computers as and when they become available.

“Our approach in this new project gives us some advantages here and now, making it possible to do more computation in a shorter amount of time,” Christopher Savoie explains.
In the project, the partners will work backwards in the sense that they take problems that have already been solved using the conventional way of working to test if the quantum approach provides an advantage by making the scale up process quicker, cheaper or reducing the cost of experiments.

“Success is finding a problem where we can successfully demonstrate that we can further accelerate the manufacturability of biomolecules using quantum-inspired algorithms. Because that would prove that we are on the right track,” Seyed Soheil Mansouri says.

The three-year collaboration kicks off later in 2023.


Quantum technology is an area of rapid growth. Researchers at DTU are focusing on three areas of technology: Quantum communication and data security; ultra sensitive quantum sensors; and the development of quantum computers. This is done through both basic research and development of technologies that can be used by businesses and government alike, which are both showing strong interest in the field.

Read more in our special topic about quantum technology.