By IQT News posted 08 Nov 2021

(HPCWire) SEEQC, a Digital Quantum Computing company, today announced its UK-based team has been awarded a £6.85M ($9.2M) grant from Innovate UK to build a commercially scalable application-specific quantum computer designed to tackle prohibitively high costs within pharmaceutical drug development.
Through funding made available by Innovate UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), the SEEQC-led consortium will build and deliver a full-stack quantum computer for pharmaceutical drug development for Darmstadt, Germany-headquartered Merck. The company is both an enterprise customer and a strategic investor in SEEQC through its strategic corporate venture capital arm, M Ventures. The company plans to use SEEQC’s quantum computing platform to advance its research and development in next-generation pharmaceutical therapies and material science.
The partnership will accelerate the use of quantum computing within pharmaceutical research to dramatically reduce the time required for drug development on a global scale benefitting from working with the UK’s National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC), also in the consortium.
This program is focused on developing high-value simulation tools to support photodynamic therapies for cancer treatment. Today, useful simulations of photosensitising drugs are not possible with classical computing power alone. SEEQC’s project will develop an application-specific quantum computer designed to simulate the most classically challenging tasks within this research.
“Today, drug discovery is a labour and time-intensive iterative process with immense costs. Thanks to our world-leading partners and the invaluable commercial benchmarking by our end-customers at Merck, we have the opportunity to develop a quantum computing platform that can radically improve the efficiency of drug development,” said Matthew Hutchings, co-founder and CPO at SEEQC.
“We see this project as a major milestone in the commercialization of quantum computing for meaningful enterprise applications like pharmaceutical development. I’m encouraged by the fact that so many global firms are willing and able to collaborate to further the advancement of quantum technology and provide real-world value to businesses,” said John Levy, co-founder and CEO of SEEQC.
SEEQC leads a consortium of quantum computing partners for the ISCF QuPharma project including Riverlane, Oxford Instruments, the University of Oxford, Medicines Discovery Catapult, and members from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, including the UK’s National Quantum Computing Centre. The custom nature of the project required close development to build several bespoke components and enable tight integration.
SEEQC’s project marks the first time a quantum computer has been integrated with a high-performance computer in the same network infrastructure. SEEQC’s is the world’s first true high-performance quantum computer integration at the enterprise level and will require the development of a custom cryostat with unique capabilities. The quantum computer will require a redesigned refrigerator to support cooling at multiple levels, specifically for the cryogenic decoder.
In the next 18 months, SEEQC’s quantum computer will perform a quantum simulation designed to support core elements of this use case on its full-stack platform and demonstrate a clear route to commercial scalability towards simulations of drugs for photodynamic cancer therapies. Merck will benchmark the performance of this application-specific machine and determine its commercial viability to support its global R&D efforts.
“We are excited to work with our partners in the consortium to create tangible value with the implementation of quantum computing technology in drug development. The application-specific development of a scalable quantum computer has the potential to disrupt virtual drug discovery approaches and we are looking forward to being an early adaptor,” said Philipp Harbach, head of in silico research at Merck.

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