Quantum computing has the potential to further accelerate and enhance the research and development of new compounds in the future. In early 2021, Boehringer Ingelheim entered into a quantum computing research partnership with Google Quantum AI to explore future applications in pharma R&D.

The magic number is 200 seconds. According to recent studies, a quantum computer can solve specific problems in 200 seconds while the world’s fastest supercomputer would need 10,000 years to perform exactly the same task. Quantum computing could thus potentially create entirely new opportunities for highly computer-based fields, such as the pharmaceutical industry.

Special areas of interest here include early pharmaceutical R&D, particularly drug design and in-silico modelling – the very areas in which researchers at Boehringer Ingelheim have a high level of expertise. Therefore, quantum computing could have significant implications for the analysis and timing of these research processes: It could enhance drug discovery and design, reduce the time to market for new medicines, and lower the costs of data-rich processes. This is why quantum computing could potentially be a big leap for medical research in general.

“Quantum computing has the potential to significantly advance R&D processes in our industry. This technology could help us to provide even more humans and animals with innovative medicines.”
Michael Schmelmer
Member of the Board of Managing Directors Finance & Group Functions

The partnership between Boehringer Ingelheim and Google Quantum AI comes at exactly the right time, according to Ryan Babbush, Head of Quantum Algorithms at Google: “Extremely accurate modelling of molecular systems is widely anticipated as among the most natural and potentially transformative applications of quantum computing. Therefore, Google is excited to partner with Boehringer Ingelheim to explore use cases and methods for quantum simulations of chemistry.”

In line with its partnership, Boehringer Ingelheim has set up a dedicated Quantum Lab, assembling experts from academia, industry, and quantum providers. Further partnerships from the industry and academia as well as in-house expertise, particularly from the IT and the company’s R&D teams, will assist these experts with their work.


This was the year American physicist and Nobel laureate Richard P. Feynman introduced the idea of simulating physical phenomena on a machine that operates on quantum mechanical principles.

The idea of a universal quantum computer, a machine which uses quantum effects to simulate nature, was born.