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FRANKFURT: Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday inaugurated Germany's first quantum computer, built by US firm IBM, hailing it as a milestone at a time of "intense competition" with foreign rivals in harnessing the revolutionary technology.

The cutting-edge "Q System One", located in Ehningen near Stuttgart, is the first of its kind outside the United States and will be operated by Germany's Fraunhofer research institute.

Speaking via video link at the virtual launch, Merkel described the supercomputer as a "technological wonder" that could play "a key role in our efforts for technological and digital sovereignty, and of course for economic growth".

"We are already in the midst of an intense competition and Germany would like to have an important say," said the veteran leader, who holds a degree in quantum chemistry.

Merkel said China and the United States were already investing heavily both in quantum research and its potential commercial applications.

Scientists believe that once the technology has matured, super-fast quantum computing will power innovation in a range of fields, from smarter encryption software and artificial intelligence to more efficient medical research and energy use.

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