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The Republic of Croatia recognized the importance of the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) initiative and signed the Declaration on European Quantum Communication Infrastructure in 2019, committing to activities aimed at building a secure quantum communication infrastructure covering the entire European Union. As the first step on this path, the CroQCI Consortium was formed.

The CroQCI Consortium consists of key research and scientific institutions, higher education establishments, public institutions, and public enterprises authorized by the Ministry of Science and Education to develop the national Quantum Communication Infrastructure (QCI) network and prepare and implement the national project Croatian Quantum Communication Infrastructure – CroQCI.

The project proposal for Croatian Quantum Communication Infrastructure – CroQCI was prepared and submitted in response to the call DIGITAL-2021-QCI-01-DEPLOY-NATIONAL, published under the Digital Europe program, and has been approved for funding.

The project is coordinated by the Croatian Academic and Research Network – CARNET.

In addition to funding from the Digital Europe program, the CroQCI project will also be financed through investments of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan 2021-2026.

Project Goal

The project aims to implement experimental quantum communication systems and networks, complemented and integrated with a range of classical secure communication technologies.

This involves building and testing devices and systems that combine the best of quantum, post-quantum classical, and quantum-enhanced solutions.

CroQCI will provide the network architecture and project use-case scenarios that will enable the integration of terrestrial infrastructure with a future space component into a fully functional quantum communication network.

Structure and Project Elements

The project elements, or work packages, are described below:

  • Work Package 1 – Building Blocks for Quantum Communication (Lead: IRB)
  • Work Package 2 – Network Architecture (Lead: CARNET)
  • Work Package 3 – Terrestrial Fibre Infrastructure (Lead: FPZ)
  • Work Package 4 – Space Connectivity (Lead: FER)
  • Work Package 5 – Key Management and application use-cases (Lead: CARNET)
  • Work Package 6 – Education (Lead: SRCE)
  • Work Package 7 – Dissemination and Communication (Lead: CARNET)
  • Work Package 8 – Project Management (Lead: CARNET)

Project Indicators

Project indicators, or implementation indicators, are specified in this project as deliverables achieved during the project duration through specific work packages.

WP1Quantum Communication for Building BlocksDemonstration of entangled based QKD in CroQCI network
WP1Quantum Communication for Building BlocksReport on the performances and readiness of experimental systems for atomic clock synchronization and quantum memory for use in CroQCI network.
WP2Network ArchitectureQCI architecture proposal & network design
WP2Network ArchitectureSimulation, deployment & validation, Implementation & management
WP3Terrestrial Optical InfrastructureReport on established terrestrial optical communication infrastructure
WP3Terrestrial Optical InfrastructureReport on established collocation spaces
WP4Space ConnectivityOGT Location defined and its main component
WP4Space ConnectivityBuild OGT prototype
WP5Key Management and Case Studies ApplicationKey Management System (KMS) report
WP5Key Management and Case Studies ApplicationUse cases report
WP6EducationReport on CroQCI VLE
WP6EducationCroQCI education and training plan
WP7Dissemination and CommunicationCroQCI Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation Activity Plan
WP7Dissemination and CommunicationNumber of IPV (Information, Promotion, and Visibility) events and support activities
WP8Project ManagementContinuous reporting
WP8Project ManagementPeriodic report
WP8Project ManagementGap analysis and roadmap for alignment with the security baseline
WP8Project ManagementReport on participation to the EuroQCI initiative and on the collaboration with other DIGITAL projects

Implementation and Execution

The project encompasses the implementation of a pilot terrestrial Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) network based on optical fibers. This will enable the national strategic communication infrastructure to upgrade to a level of secure information exchange using quantum communication technology, and it will be prepared for connection to the quantum communication infrastructure of neighboring EU member states, facilitating full integration into the future EuroQCI network.

As part of the project, coordinated activities with the support of the European Space Agency will establish the foundation for long-distance Quantum Communication (QC) via satellite between EU member states and Croatia through an optical ground station.

The knowledge transfer process between the research community and partner institutions will result in new engineers and technicians who will be skilled in manufacturing components, devices, and software for the application of new quantum technologies. This will have a significant impact on promoting the use of high technology and economic growth, not only in Croatia but also in a broader European context. The demonstration of QKD within the project will provide an opportunity for education and training in quantum communication technologies, increasing readiness for the design and implementation of next-generation highly secure communication and data networks.

Project Duration:

January 1, 2023 – June 30, 2025 – 30 months

Funding Sources:

DEP (50%) – €4,999,667.00
NPOO (50%) – €4,999,667.00
Total Amount – €9,999,334.04

All expected outcomes and project results described above, within the broader framework of European collaboration in quantum communication infrastructure (EuroQCI), will contribute to the long-term strategic autonomy and digital sovereignty of the EU.