(PhysicsWorld) Across the world, small companies are springing up to sell software for a type of hardware that could be a long, long way from maturity. Their aim: to exploit today’s quantum machines to their fullest potential, and get a foot in the door while the market is still young. But is there really a market for quantum software now, when the computers that might run it are still at such an early stage of development?
“In terms of advanced machines capable of processing more than one or two qubits, there are several dozen systems currently in existence globally,” says Michael Biercuk, a quantum physicist at the University of Sydney, Australia.

Quantum Software Market Addressing Future Markets
That might not sound like enough to constitute a market for quantum software. However, Biercuk argues that the overall market for quantum technologies – including not just computing but also sensing, metrology and imaging – could be worth billions of dollars in the next four years. In 2017, Biercuk gained “multi-million dollar” funding from venture capitalists to found a company, Q-CTRL, and take a slice of this pie.
In 2017 Brierley, a mathematician at the University of Cambridge, UK, founded a company called Riverlane to develop quantum software, including error correction. Today, with £3.25m in seed funding from venture capital firms Cambridge Innovation Capital and Amadeus Capital Partners under his belt, Brierley is optimistic. “We now think we can do [the nitrogenase simulation] with millions of qubits, and soon we hope to do it with hundreds of thousands,” he says. “And that’s because of improvements in software, not hardware.”

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