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Riverlane discusses how to build a quantum business and an industry at the same time

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By IQT News posted 30 Dec 2021

(Tech.eu) Riverlane principals are interviewed here by Tech.eu in an article discussing how to build a business and an industry at the same time. IQT-News has summarized.

Building a business and an industry:
“The issue, in a nutshell, is we are building an operating system for quantum computers at the same time as helping build a new industry” Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Rebecca Simmons tells me.
This leaves Riverlane and its few peers with some serious challenges. How do you know if this ecosystem will be successful, let alone lucrative?

Funding is available:
“For one thing, there’s money,” explains Riverlane’s Senior Business Development Manager, Dr. Maria Maragkou, “globally, there’s so much quantum funding available.” But, while interest from VC funds is significant, it is early government support that has become crucial to quantum’s development. “Every government is rushing to invest in quantum because they have well understood the potential here,” Maragkou continues. “If it does work out, which is now very likely, they must be ready and they want to have some sovereign ownership of it, ideally to not rely on everybody else.”

Attracting talent is difficult: Education is key
Even though the capital may be plenty, starting a business in a totally new realm is hard. Attracting talent and identifying partners to help build this new ecosystem is still a huge challenge.
“We have no problem attracting quantum scientists to come and work for us because they understand physics, says Simmons. “But we’ve struggled much more to attract software engineers. They’re excited by quantum but sometimes they feel like they can’t work for us because they have no background in it.”
It starts with education, says Maragkou. “We have to tell people again and again: ‘No-one has experience in quantum: you can add a lot to this company without it.’” Even though there is no commercially viable quantum computer, the hardware and software co-development needs to start now. And because everything is so new, education is absolutely the first step.

Networks and partners are crucial
Networks and partners are crucial in quantum says Simmons. “We cannot do what we’re doing without working with other people and right now, that means a lot of hardware partners. We can’t keep everything in-house and a big fat secret and never interact with anyone else and present our product to the world. It’s never going to work in quantum. It’s a very collaborative space and it has to be.
We’re still in the phase of collaboration because the ecosystem is so small and everything is under development. The phase of hard competition hasn’t kicked in yet.

Patent for future value
Patents are massive, says Simmons. Trying to patent up and down the quantum computing stack to create future value is crucial. If you’re not doing it now—start, it takes a lot of time. There’s a finite number of people or companies doing this who understand quantum and do it well, so you need a critical mass of them in the same place to get the tech going.

Business experience needed on team
Finally, it’s worth noting that for companies like Riverlane, it’s not uncommon to find that while academic experience and expertise is second to none, business experience may be lacking. Simmons explains: “Many quantum companies are academic spin-outs. We’re all highly accomplished in our fields, but many of us have not run a business before, so we’ve worked on bringing that into the team to help us.”
At the same time, somebody without a quantum background cannot start a company like this,” adds Maragkou. “Someone who has no connection to quantum cannot have credibility and influence in this field. An executive just coming from the business side saying, “Okay, I’m going to start now a quantum company.” No way. It is not enough. But the business experience can come later.”

This article is part of a long-term content partnership between Tech.eu and Molten Ventures, which means it is independently written by one of their portfolio companies together with our editorial team, and financially supported by Molten Ventures.

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