Will the quantum computing investment summer of 2021 continue?

Volume of information being released around quantum initiatives leads TBR to believe the so-called quantum winter has passed

Last year the demand for agile solutions to persistent global challenges helped raise awareness of quantum computing’s potential. Investors took notice, as the quantum computing industry saw unprecedented backing from investors and progress in alliances around innovation, commercialization and workforce development. TBR believes this uptick in enterprise interest in quantum potential will continue throughout 2022.

In 2021 we saw some of the main hardware players continue to hit development road map milestones, new entrants in the market, and increased commitment to the technology stack, all of which we discuss further in our recently published 4Q21 Quantum Computing Market Landscape. While intimidating performance development gaps remain, the amount of funding that has been committed to the industry has provided clarity in a critical ingredient of innovation.

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Additional developments highlighted in our recent 4Q21 Quantum Computing Market Landscape include:

  • Rigetti, the only pure play superconducting quantum computing startup, announced plans to become a public company via Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), Supernova Partners Acquisition Company II Ltd. As is customary with SPAC acquisitions, the deal will result in Rigetti receiving a massive cash infusion of $358 million, plus additional investor funds and $100 million in Private Investment via Private Equity. Rigetti would be the second company to go public, after IonQ, which went public in October. The $458 million Rigetti is to receive from this SPAC deal would well position the company to refocus on R&D objectives and invest in the system development race. To do so, the company would need to hire aggressively, as the talent pool that has the capability to lead and contribute to quantum system development is extremely limited. Based on the timeline of the IonQ deal announcement to execution, TBR predicts Rigetti will become public in May or June 2022.
  • It seemed to only be a matter of time until Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched its own initiative to build a quantum computer. In October the cloud computing division announced it has built and operationalized AWS Center for Quantum Computing, located in Pasadena, Calif., officially launching AWS into the quantum computing race. AWS plans to build its quantum computers based on the superconducting architecture, positioning it to compete directly with IBM, Rigetti and Google. AWS has teased its intent to build a quantum computer hosted on Amazon Braket, its quantum computing resource provisioning service via AWS Cloud, and has released several quantum research papers, most notably one regarding a new method to build a fault-tolerant quantum computer based on Schrödinger’s cat qubits. The theoretical method incorporates both active and passive quantum error correction to combat the two main types of errors prevalent in quantum computing, bit flip and phase flip errors. It should be noted that, to this point, AWS has not yet realized a full prototype, or at least has not made such progress public.
  • IonQ, a leading vendor in the development of ion-trap quantum computers, made international commercial progress with its partnership with South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Company. The two companies plan to codevelop what will be the largest Variational Quantum Eigensolver algorithm run on a quantum system to date. The purpose of the algorithm is to simulate the properties of lithium oxide to improve battery technology used in electric vehicles. This partnership marks the second major alliance in South Korea, after IonQ’s three-year deal with Quantum Information Research Support Center at Sungkyunkwan University. TBR believes this activity is largely a result of co-founder and CTO Jungsang Kim’s strong ties to the country. Kim attended Seoul National University, widely regarded as the top university in the country, before receiving his Ph.D. in physics at Stanford University. In addition to his role at IonQ, Kim is a professor at Duke University and serves as a member of the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee.
  • Quantinuum, the newly minted business combination of Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum Computing, released one of the first true quantum offerings in 2021 in its cryptographic key generator service, Quantum Origin. While relatively narrow in use, the service generates truly random cryptographic keys, something that could previously only be simulated. In January the company announced a deal to make Quantum Origin available within the Strangeworks ecosystem. Strangeworks is attempting to create value in the enterprise space via a quantum ecosystem that allows members to access quantum offerings, software tools and educational services as well as a community of quantum-involved companies.
  • Capgemini and IBM announced a partnership to explore quantum use cases, particularly in the quantum communication and sensing areas, and to launch Capgemini’s Quantum Lab, which has quantum computer facilities in the U.K., Portugal and India. Capgemini will also serve as an IBM hub, meaning IBM will build an on-premises quantum computer for Capgemini, which will effectively expand IBM’s quantum system reach to European customers with lower latency. The deal includes IBM’s latest 127-qubit quantum processing unit, Eagle, which it released in December.