Quick Quantum Quips: Public investment, national rivalries, business restructurings and process innovation heat up
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.
June quantum computing market activities illustrate the growing public sector interest in quantum as both a source of high-paying jobs and a technology vital to a company’s strategic sovereign interests. Legacy technology innovation has always hinged on early funding for “protection of the commons” initiatives, where the funding was essentially for scientific discovery that, once hardened, could be retooled for commercial use cases. Quantum systems are no different in that regard.
Similarly, the Honeywell spin-merger with CQC also enables the new entity to participate in several national initiatives around cybersecurity and national defense by combining U.S. and U.K. firms into one operating unit. Scientific discovery and manufacturing process innovation also merited mention this month as Rigetti announced a chip manufacturing process that it claims will facilitate the manufacture of highly scalable systems of hundreds, if not thousands, of qubits.
- Federated Quantum System (FQS) announced during the G-7 summit that the U.S., U.K., Japan, Canada, Italy, Belgium and Austria will collaborate on a on a satellite-based quantum technology encryption network based on assets being developed by British startup Arqit. Companies from those countries will also join the initiative to help design and test the system. With ransomware attacks bringing cybersecurity to the forefront of the news, this multinational encryption initiative for military communications between allied nations represents encouraging signs for international cooperation that can potentially produce the funding necessary to advance quantum to a point where it is commercially advantageous.
- Germany formally announced its quantum data center facility, to be located near Stuttgart and managed by prominent applied research organization Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The event underscores the strategic importance many nation states place on ensuring a center of gravity within the quantum world within their sovereign borders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a unique political figure in that her formal education is in quantum chemistry. While keeping a watchful eye on quantum developments in the U.S. and China and wanting to maintain and build quantum intellectual property indigenous to Germany, the quantum system is being installed by IBM, which maintains a dominant early lead in the nascent industry. The European Union (EU) has taken a leadership position in establishing policy legislation around data sovereignty. Integral to this installation will be the localization of the data within Germany.
- The EU loosened restrictions it had imposed on non-EU nations participating in its quantum research initiatives. Launched in February under the legislative banner Horizon Europe, which calls for funding of 95.5 billion euros in total, the initiative calls for curiosity-driven proposals from the European Research Council. Viewed as strategically important to the overall security of the EU, a month-long parliamentary debate occurred on whether to allow non-EU nations such as the U.K., Switzerland and Israel to participate. The final compromise allows for limited participation by non-EU nations provided they agree to special “assurances” regarding protecting the confidentiality of the technology. This agreement and the wrangling over who can participate underscores the growing political interest in a technology that, once hardened, will radically alter cybersecurity and military weapons systems.
- Honeywell and Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) announced a spin-merger combining Honeywell’s quantum assets with those of CQC. An early investor in the ion trap hardware stack, Honeywell will retain a majority stake in the combined entity, which will include CQC’s software stack as well. CQC will remain system-agnostic. Honeywell claims the impetus for creating a stand-alone quantum entity was to facilitate investment from various capital sources that may have been reticent to invest in the operation when it was a wholly owned Honeywell subsidiary. Each entity has been an early leader in the space. In addition to increasing funding opportunities, the combined entity also aims to create a consolidated talent pool of quantum experts at a time when human talent capable of scientific discovery in this domain is in short supply.
- Rigetti Computing held an early lead in full-stack quantum development but has struggled lately to keep pace with the investment funding necessary to compete with heavily capitalized firms such as IBM, Google and Microsoft. In June Rigetti announced it had developed a scalable manufacturing design process for quantum chips manufacturing in its fabrication plant in California. Rigetti claims it has a multichip approach that will allow the company to connect multiple identical dies into a large-scale quantum processor. Rigetti alleges connecting multiple smaller dies reduces manufacturing complexity and allows for accelerated, predictable scaling.
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 next edition, publishing in July, will focus on evolving services and overall market maturation indicators.
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