Quick Quantum Quips: Public investment continues to drive quantum computing development

Welcome to TBR’s monthly newsletter on the quantum computing market: Quick Quantum Quips (Q3). This market changes rapidly, and the hype can often distract from the realities of the actual technological developments. This newsletter keeps the community up to date on recent announcements while stripping away the hype around developments.

For more details, reach out to Geoff Woollacott or Jacob Fong to set up a time to chat.

April 2021 Developments:

Activities this month illustrate the burgeoning signs of early quantum commercialization more so than the research discoveries advancing the computational power of quantum architectures themselves would suggest. Microsoft landed a new enterprise partnership; QC Ware established a public military partnership; the University of Maryland furthered its goal of becoming a quantum hub by creating a quantum-focused incubator; and CQC added talent to its rich scientific team. In addition, we highlight infinityQ Technology, which introduced its first quantum computer using what it describes as “quantum analog computing.”

Microsoft: In late April Microsoft announced an early quantum partnership with Ally Financial, the parent company of Ally Bank, to explore quantum algorithm use cases. Through Azure Quantum, Ally will gain access to quantum computing expertise and the ability to upskill its team on specific quantum software development through Microsoft’s quantum development kit.

Near-term enterprise quantum activity will likely continue to look very similar to this type of partnership. While full-scale enterprise quantum applications are still several years away, enterprises will want to begin learning about the fundamental technology, current and anticipated capabilities, and high-level application and integration scenarios specific to their industries and businesses if they intend on capitalizing on early adoption advantages. As we see with the Microsoft-Ally partnership, enterprises are beginning to take the important steps to most effectively utilize the capabilities quantum computing will bring by developing these relationships with quantum vendors and cultivating talent and subject-matter expertise.

Additionally, TBR believes the leading cloud platform and infrastructure providers in enterprise, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and IBM Cloud, will play a large role in quantum computing distribution, as buying and deploying on-premises quantum computers will not always be necessary or practical in use cases that do not have strict low-latency requirements.

QC Ware: The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the primary research and development branch of the Air Force, formed a partnership with QC Ware to use its quantum machine learning algorithm, q-means, to infer unmanned aircraft mission objectives based on the observed flight paths. A core objective of the AFRL has been to facilitate the advancement of key areas of quantum algorithm development such as optimization, machine learning and quantum simulation.

University of Maryland: The University of Maryland is creating a quantum incubator to help nurture early-stage startups that spawn from the university, such as academic spinoffs and companies started by entrepreneurial graduates. Initially budgeted at $25 million, the incubator will presumably provide funding and operational resources such as access to offices and labs, high-speed internet, and networking opportunities for executive advisers, talent and potential customers.

Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC): The U.K.-based quantum startup bolstered its scientific team by naming Professor Stephen Clark as head of artificial intelligence. He transitioned from DeepMind, an AI subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., where he was a senior staff research scientist. DeepMind notably created some of the strongest AI engines with its games Chess and Go, which are well suited for AI experimentation due to the astronomically large number of permutations achievable in a bounded environment. Clark specializes in natural language processing and led a team at DeepMind that was working on grounded language learning in virtual environments. Prior to his work in the private sector, Clark was a faculty member at the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford.  

infinityQ Technology, Inc.: This Montreal-based, woman-founded and -led quantum startup introduced its first-generation quantum computer, which uses a unique approach the company calls “quantum-analog computing.” The approach falls outside the categories found in other system architectures that use elements of superconductivity or ion-trap technology to reap the benefits of quantum mechanics in computing.

InfinityQ describes quantum-analog computing as using “artificial atoms to exploit the superposition effect and achieve quantum computing capabilities without the error correction and cryogenics tax.” The company reported that the quantum-analog computing approach offers certain advantages, including extreme energy efficiency, a compact form factor and the ability to operate at room temperature — all characteristics that are in direct contrast to the shortcomings of the superconductive quantum architecture. The company claims it has demonstrated the ability to solve the famous traveling salesman problem for 128 cities, compared to the 22 cities that other, presumably quantum, machines have been able to solve.

If you would like more detailed information about the quantum computing market, please inquire about TBR’s Quantum Computing Market Landscape, a semiannual deep dive into the quantum computing market. Our latest edition, published in December, focuses on the software layer of quantum systems.

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