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18 September 2023Lisa Langsdorf

A Conversation with Christa Hooijer, Interim Chair of the The Quantum Delta NL Foundation

As announced earlier, after summer we said goodbye to Prof. Dr. Ronald Hanson as Chair of the Quantum Delta NL board at a small gathering with our programme’s team and some lovely speeches by among others Carlo Beenakker and Constantijn van Oranje.

This September, Christa Hoojier joined as Interim Chair of the board. Christa will be working closely with the Quantum Delta NL Foundation team to support its ambition of advancing the Quantum technology ecosystem in the Netherlands. Christa will be with us until a permanent replacement has been found. While not working, she is a goalie for her field hockey team and lives with her family in Deventer.  

We recently sat down with Christa to better understand her mission and vision and how she expects to support the Quantum ecosystem. Here’s what she had to say:

Tell us about yourself. What is your background and why did you decide to take on the interim role of Chair of the Quantum Delta NL Foundation?

I studied Applied Physics at the University of Twente and went on to the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam for my Ph.D. in Quantum Optics & Dielectric Structures. From there, I joined the funding organization for Physics in the Netherlands (FOM) and my final job there was the Director of FOM. I later joined TNO, where we translate academic findings into solutions for society. In my unit, we build high-tech solutions and systems that are being used in products.

Because of that, I have a view of what innovation means relative to research and the differences and the complements. I’ve followed quantum development in the Netherlands with an interest for the past decade and, when I was called to consider the interim position as Chair of the Board, I thought it was very interesting and a complement to my work at TNO.  The challenge to help in this particular phase of a pioneering growth fund project was a great opportunity.  

How will you plan to collaborate with the organization and with our partners? What would you like to accomplish during your time as Chair?

I’m personally excited about Quantum technology and the audacity of our government to invest so much money in building a Quantum ecosystem. I hope to give a very big contribution to keep the organization on track while a new chair is being sought.   

One of the most important jobs that we have to do–as a community–is to take stock of where we are, what we want to achieve, and what we want our legacy to be. We’ve established this ecosystem and we want to ensure that it thrives. My goal is to be visible and present at those strategy discussions as this is a key moment in the entire project to reaffirm, realign, or perhaps refocus. We need to ask ourselves what we want to do and whether we are on track. Further, it’s important that the people in the organization are best set up to fulfill their role. This means supporting the entire ecosystem in the Netherlands so that it will flourish and positioning us for the next phase and the future of the Quantum ecosystem in the next 5-10 years.

What excites you about the Quantum ecosystem in the Netherlands and Europe?

It is important to realize that we are on a mission to make a technological difference rather than this just being a scientific endeavor.  

The Quantum computer is a tantalizing concept and developing it will be a transitional moment in the technology of the planet. We will be able to unlock new things which is very exciting. The development of Quantum computing is also less certain than the other growth fund proposals funded by the Dutch government, which is why I say that they have audacity. The skill and speed at which we started our endeavors was remarkable for us in the Netherlands and a bold choice to focus research in these areas.  

I’d like to call on the entire consortium to see that we really do achieve our big dream beyond startups and that a control point of the Quantum ecosystem is in the Netherlands. This will help fund future research, stimulate innovation and provide interesting jobs. Also, I think, for our community, it’s not about getting one more PHD student but about achieving this goal of full quantum computing. We’re in this together. It’s a national effort. We’re trying to achieve a mission, and need to collaborate the best we can.

Written by Lisa Langsdorf.

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