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Quick Quantum Quips: New firms add their names to the quantum landscape

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 Stephanie Long or Geoff Woollacott to set up a time to chat.

October 2020 Developments

Niche entities within the quantum ecosystem are starting to gain notoriety as big-name scientists place bets on smaller firms with big ideas. At the same time, big brands not typically associated with quantum computing are beginning to throw their own hats in the ring as the monetization opportunities become nearer term and the upside of quantum grows massive. Meanwhile, firms are reallocating funding as the accessibility and functionality of quantum systems increase.

  1. Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC) gains new talent with John Martinis leaving Google as its top quantum scientist and joining the Australia-based startup. Silicon Quantum Computing, one of the few quantum computing organizations with a female lead, was founded in 2017 by Professor Michelle Simmons. Martinis said he joined the organization because he believes its unique approach to silicon-based fabrication at the atomic level could be a differentiator in the space. His contract with SQC will last at least for the next six months.
  2. Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) unveiled the latest updates to its quantum software development kit named t|ket>. The recent updates increase the number of supported quantum devices and improve circuit optimization and noise mitigation. CQC’s t|ket> is supported on Amazon Bracket and IonQ systems and also supported specifically for application development on Windows operating systems.
  3. Toshiba unveiled plans to develop commercial-grade quantum key distribution (QKD). The vendor has a deal inked with the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in Japan to install its QKD at multiple points on NICT’s network. The system is expected to be rolled out in 4Q20 and deployed in 2Q21. Toshiba intends to capitalize on this niche within the larger quantum ecosystem and currently is not planning to expand beyond the QKD space. TBR believes this demonstrates that classical computing vendors are preparing to update security protocols ahead of key advancements in quantum technology.
  4. IBM, in partnership with The Coding School, has committed to providing free quantum education to 5,000 students globally. This investment is aimed specifically at high school students with the goal of increasing overall accessibility and diversity among those studying quantum computing. There is currently a well-known skills shortage in the quantum computing space, and as the technology becomes more mainstream, the gap will widen. IBM is one of the leading vendors proactively investing in education at both the university and high school levels to help bridge this gap.
  5. D-Wave made headlines this month for an undesirable reason as its valuation was slashed nearly in half. This development came following a refinancing effort on the part of the annealing quantum company. Specifically, D-Wave’s initial $450 million valuation was cut to about $170 million during a restructuring that raised $40 million in funds, of which NEC Corp. contributed $10 million. D-Wave has undergone executive leadership changes recently, including the promotion of Alan Baratz to CEO to replace Vern Brownwell, who retired. TBR believes D-Wave’s valuation slump may have to do with advancements in quantum computing. We believe that annealing is a valuable tool in the quantum ecosystem but that as true quantum computers become more capable, a true quantum system could replace quantum annealing in some places.

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 December 2020 iteration will focus on the software layer of quantum systems. Additionally, register for our Dec. 16 webinar on the topic.