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.
March 2021 Developments:
Quantum developments this month saw IBM score its first on-premises quantum computer deal, Honeywell push the ball forward by achieving a record quantum volume (QV), more newcomers join the IBM Quantum Network, and the first pure-play quantum computing startup to sign a deal to go public.
IBM: IBM announced a partnership with Cleveland Clinic, dubbed Discovery Accelerator, to utilize quantum computing for scientific research and discovery. What makes this partnership particularly unique is that IBM will supply Cleveland Clinic with a quantum machine on premises — a major milestone as the first order for an on-premises quantum installation. Other quantum engagements up to this point have utilized quantum computing through cloud infrastructure providers such as IBM, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
Despite the nascency of quantum applications in real-world scenarios, the IBM-Cleveland Clinic partnership makes sense for multiple reasons. For starters, “wet labs” for scientific and novel drug discovery are one of the hypothesized earliest use cases as healthcare organizations have the means to purchase and house the popular superconducting quantum computer architectures, which require extremely cool environments, much like the Pfizer vaccine does, albeit at considerably lower temperatures. Additionally, the practical compatibility of early quantum applications for optimization problems creates large incentives such as increased scientific discovery efficiency, which reduces time & materials and labor costs. Moreover, the sharp increase of investments into the healthcare and quantum industry, catalyzed by COVID-19, put the two industries on a collision course.
IonQ: IonQ officially announced a deal to became the first pure play quantum computing company to go public, via a merger with dMY Technology Group III, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The entity has an estimated combined market cap valuation of $2 billion. It is a significant milestone for the still-nascent quantum computing industry. Notably, however, IonQ did not choose the IPO route in going public, which may indicate wariness to test the public appetite for not-yet-commercially-ready quantum. Additionally, merging with a SPAC has several advantages, including bypassing the arduous IPO process, securing a prequantifiable cash infusion and gaining experienced guidance from leadership of the SPAC.
Honeywell: On the hardware system side, Honeywell achieved a QV of 512, a new record in the industry, on its latest form factor, System Model H1. QV is a metric developed by IBM in the pursuit of a better way to measure quantum computing performance, in place of the less-than-objective measure through qubit count. This achievement by Honeywell’s System Model H1 is notable as it debuted in September with a QV of 128.
On the commercial side, BMW announced a dual partnership with Honeywell and Entropica Labs to run a quantum proof-of-concept for BMW’s supply chain. The presumed role of Honeywell is as the supply-side quantum hardware vendor, while Entropica Labs provides the demand-side algorithms required for BMW to reap the benefits of quantum computing tied to the automaker’s bespoke problem set.
Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC): On the scientific discovery side of the quantum industry, CQC published a paper demonstrating that quantum machines can employ machine learning (ML) techniques to “learn to infer hidden information from broad probabilistic reasoning models. The implications of these findings open the door to quantum applications in previously unconfirmed use-case scenarios. The biggest near-term beneficiaries are expected to be quantum hardware and software developers as well as ML scientists.
Phasecraft: This U.K.-based quantum software company joined the IBM Quantum Network, a global consortium of hundreds of quantum computing companies, startups, academic institutions and research organizations in the name of wholistically advancing quantum development from physical systems to algorithms and applications. Phasecraft currently develops algorithms aimed at optimizing and utilizing near-term quantum computers.
If you would like more detailed information around 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.
Note to readers: As of the March edition of Q3, Stephanie Long, the creator of this blog, has moved on from TBR Inc. and bestowed this series to me, Jacob Fong. TBR and I would like to thank Stephanie for all her phenomenal work and analysis at the company and through this blog series on the ever-fascinating industry that is quantum computing.