Tech Trend – Quantum Computing

Quantum Computing has long offered the promise to radically transform the computing industry and over the last few years, we are starting to see the results to support the potential. Experts believe general-purpose Quantum Computers will still take some time, but 2019 saw some big steps forward for the industry.

In a survey we conducted of the Sierra Ventures CXO Advisory Board, CXOs selected Quantum Computing as the number one next-gen technology they were interested in learning about in 2020, surpassing other technology interests including Digital Twins, Autonomous Vehicles, Augmented Reality, Blockchain, 5G, Robotics, and Digital Identity.  

We are already seeing prominent companies developing and partnering on solutions that enable short-term use cases for Quantum Computing applications, and they are using these applications to solve real business problems. Some examples include: 

  • Volkswagen – aiming to reduce traffic flows in cities like Beijing via a partnership with Google and D-Wave. This application could optimize routes, transportation schedules, weather data, fuel costs and is relevant to multiple sectors.
  • Airbus – established a Quantum Computing unit at its Newport, UK plant to develop solutions for digital modeling and materials sciences. This has the potential to shorten portions of the R&D process from weeks to hours. 
  • Biogen –  focusing on finding cures for neurological and neurodegenerative conditions via quantum simulation through a partnership with Accenture and 1QBit. Specific results were not disclosed, but the project was labeled as a success. 

In 2019 we also saw a team at Google led by Dr. John Martinis claim that they have reached “Quantum supremacy”- the ability to demonstrate quantum computers can solve a problem that classical computers practically cannot. This declaration has driven more interest in the field, both from investors and end-users. 

The critical question for us as early-stage investors in Emerging Technology, is where to place early bets in this space despite the uncertainty of how the Quantum Computing market will shape over the next 2-10 years. 

We recently made an investment in a Quantum Computing company based in Australia called Q-CTRL. Q-CTRL provides software that reduces the “noise” in Quantum Computers (which causes hardware error and instability) while lengthening a qubit’s lifespan. This is critical because qubits are how Quantum Computers store information and run computations. A longer lifespan of qubits enables more calculations which leads to more powerful and useful Quantum Computers. 

Quantum technology is much broader than just Quantum Computing and many opportunities for application are still being explored. One area Q-CTRL Founder Michael Biercuk is exploring is quantum control for quantum sensing. In a lecture he gave at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Distinguished Lecture Series, Michael described how new concepts in quantum control engineering can be applied to sensors in military settings to dramatically enhance standoff detection and precision navigation and timing.

We believe that we are just scratching the surface of Quantum Computing’s potential and we are looking forward to working with more passionate entrepreneurs to drive the field forward.

To learn more about Quantum Computing and Q-CTRL’s take, check out Q-CTRL’s 2019 Retrospective & 2020 Predictions.

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