(Nature.com) At the start of this year, according to an analysis by Nature, private investors had funded at least 52 quantum-technology companies globally since 2012 — many of them spin-outs from university departments. (Academics have founded many more start-ups that have yet to close deals.)
Although the value of some of the cash infusions remains secret, Nature’s analysis captures the scale of recent activity. It finds that, in 2017 and 2018, companies received at least $450 million in private funding — more than four times the $104 million disclosed over the previous two years. VC makes up the bulk of this cash. Many firms in the VC hub of California’s Silicon Valley have already plunged in.
venture capitalists tend to invest in what they hope will be game-changers, such as a multipurpose quantum computer that could handle many kinds of otherwise-unfeasible calculations. From the perspective of investors, the cash pumped into the field annually represents a small outlay so far — on a par with VC investments in artificial-intelligence (AI) firms before 2010, for instance. (By 2018, US VC investments in AI had boomed to $9.3 billion.) Still, these numbers are substantial for an immature field that doesn’t yet have much to sell.
Some VC investors are betting on a breakthrough that brings general-purpose quantum computers to fruition in five or ten years. Others are banking on making just enough progress for another firm to buy them out. Many also hope scientists can find applications for relatively small, imperfect quantum computers, which might emerge sooner.
NOTE: Click through to Source article from Nature to see graphs of fundings and also a global map indicating where the investments have been made. Nature cross-referenced details of quantum start-ups published on market-research websites and in consultancy reports, together with information provided by PitchBook for the details in report.