‘The Big Money Is Here’: The Arms Race to Quantum Computing

By IQT News posted 29 Apr 2022

(Haaertz) Most of the early quantum research and development was carried out by academic institutions and government research institutes. But in recent years, steps to make the transition from the academic lab to the industrial sector have increased. Researchers and scientists have been creating or joining companies developing quantum computing technology. IQT-News summarizes Sagi Cohen’s extensive article about the investment flow into quantum technology.
In the first quarter of this year, about $700 million was invested – a sum similar to the investments in the field between 2015 and 2019 combined. In addition to the surge in startup activity in the field, tech giants such as IBM, Amazon, Google and Microsoft have been investing major resources in the field and have been recruiting experts as well.
“The quantum computing field was academic for a long time, and everything changed the moment that big money reached industry,” said Ayal Itzkovitz, managing partner at the Pitango First fund, which has invested in several quantum companies in recent years.

In Israel in recent months, the country’s first two startups trying to create a quantum processor have been established. They’re still in their stealth stage. One is Rehovot-based Quantum Source, which has raised $15 million to develop photonic quantum computing solutions. Its technology is based on research at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and it’s headed by leading people in the Israeli processor chip sector. The second is Quantum Art, whose executives came from the Israeli defense sector. Its technology is also based on work at the Weizmann Institute.
There are also companies seek to skip over the current generation of quantum computers and go for broke – to build an effective computer with millions of qubits capable of error detection and correction – even if it takes many years. In 2016, it was on that basis that the Palo Alto, California firm PsiQuantum was founded. Last year the company raised $450 million (in part from Microsoft and BlackRock) based on a company valuation of $3 billion, becoming one of the hot and promising names in the field.
Itzkovitz, from the Pitango fund, was one of its early investors. “They said they wouldn’t make a small computer with a few qubits because it would delay them but would instead go straight for the real goal,” he explained.

IBM, which is one of the pioneers in the industry, recently unveiled a particularly large 127-qubit computer, and it’s promising to produce a 1,000-qubit one within the next few years. In 2019, Google claimed quantum supremacy with a computer that managed in 3.5 minutes to perform a task that would have taken a regular computer 10,000 years to carry out. And in May of last year, it unveiled a new quantum center in Santa Barbara, California and it intends to build a million-qubit computer by 2029 at an investment of billions of dollars.
Amazon has gotten into the field, recruiting researchers and recently launching a new quantum center at the California Institute of Technology, and Intel and Microsoft have also gotten into the game.
At the same time, there are several firms in the market that specialize in quantum computing that have already raised considerable sums or have even gone public. One of the most prominent of them is the American company IonQ (which in the past attracted investments from Google, Amazon and Samsung) and which last year went public via a SPAC merger. Another such company is the Silicon Valley firm Rigetti Computing, which also went public via a SPAC merger. Then there’s Quantinuum, which was the product of a merger between Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum.

All that’s in addition to a growing startup ecosystem of smaller companies such as Atom Computing and QuEra, which have raised initial funding to develop their own versions of a quantum processor.

There are also companies seek to skip over the current generation of quantum computers and go for broke – to build an effective computer with millions of qubits capable of error detection and correction – even if it takes many years. In 2016, it was on that basis that the Palo Alto, California firm PsiQuantum was founded. Last year the company raised $450 million (in part from Microsoft and BlackRock) based on a company valuation of $3 billion, becoming one of the hot and promising names in the field.
Itzkovitz, from the Pitango fund, was one of its early investors. “They said they wouldn’t make a small computer with a few qubits because it would delay them but would instead go straight for the real goal,” he explained.

<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium-the-big-money-is-here-the-arms-race-to-quantum-computing-1.10761657>

Sandra K. Helsel, Ph.D. has been researching and reporting on frontier technologies since 1990.  She has her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.

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