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IBM Collaborating With Top Startups to Accelerate Quantum Computing

April 5, 2018
By Jeff Wesler
There’s no denying it – we’re approaching the dawn of the commercial quantum era – a formative period when quantum computing and its early use cases rapidly develop. Predictably, hype is setting in around the potential for quantum computing to impact our world, as media, VC firms, investors, and the general public continue to learn and understand more about the technology.
Today, I am joining nearly 100 startup founders, venture capitalists and industry thought leaders at the first IBM Q Summit Silicon Valley event in Palo Alto, CA. The goal of the day: cut through the hype and focus on the present state of quantum computing and how organizations, and developers can prepare for the future. 
IBM Q Summit attendees are gathering to discuss what to expect over the next five years and what it means to be “quantum ready.” The discussion will inevitably also center on the emerging role of the quantum developer and what that means for future application development. 
quantum computing

Scientists inside the IBM Q computation center, which houses IBM’s most advanced quantum computers, accessed via IBM Cloud by the IBM Q Network.

Today, IBM is taking another substantial step in broadening access to quantum computing. IBM is announcing the first startups to join the IBM Q Network, a worldwide community dedicated to advancing quantum computing and exploring practical applications for business and science. Membership in the network will enable these startups to run experiments and algorithms on IBM quantum computers via cloud-based access. Additionally, these startup members will have the opportunity to collaborate with IBM researchers and technical SMEs on potential applications, as well as other IBM Q Network organizations. 

The IBM Q Network, which launched in December 2017, provides participating organizations various levels of cloud-based access to quantum expertise and resources, and for certain members, access to the IBM Q System, one of the most advanced, scalable universal quantum computing systems available. It will also provide startups in the quantum computing race deeper access to APIs and advanced quantum software tools, libraries and applications, as well as consultation on emerging quantum technologies and applications from IBM scientists, engineers and consultants.

These startups include:

  • Zapata Computing Based in Cambridge, MA, Zapata Computing is a quantum software, applications and services company developing algorithms for chemistry, machine learning, security, and error correction.
  • Strangeworks – Based in Austin, TX and founded by William Hurley, Strangeworks is a quantum computing software company designing and delivering tools for software developers and systems management for IT Administrators and CIOs.
  • QxBranch – Headquartered in Washington, D.C., QxBranch delivers advanced data analytics for finance, insurance, energy, and security customers worldwide. QxBranch is developing tools and applications enabled by quantum computing with a focus on machine learning and risk analytics.
  • Quantum Benchmark – Quantum Benchmark is a venture-backed software company led by a team of the top research scientists and engineers in quantum computing, with headquarters in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada. Quantum computers require specialized software to mitigate the inevitable errors that arise during a quantum computation, which will lead to incorrect output. Quantum Benchmark provides solutions that enable error characterization, error mitigation, error correction and performance validation for quantum computing hardware. Quantum Benchmark’s True-Q™ technology helps users determine the quantum advantage that is achievable with any given quantum computing hardware for any application of interest.  
  • QC Ware – Based in Palo Alto, CA, QC Ware develops hardware-agnostic enterprise software solutions running on quantum computers. QC Ware’s investors include Airbus Ventures, DE Shaw Ventures and Alchemist, and it has relationships with NASA and other government agencies. QC Ware won a NSF grant, and its customers include Fortune 500 industrial and technology companies.
  • Q-CTRL – Our hardware agnostic platform – Black Opal – gives you the ability to design and deploy the most effective controls to suppress errors in your quantum hardware before they accumulate, accelerating your roadmap to functional systems. Based in Sydney, Australia, Q-CTRL is backed by Main Sequence Ventures and Horizons Ventures.
  • Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) – Established in 2014, CQC is a leading independent quantum computing company combining expertise in Quantum Information Processing, Quantum Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Chemistry, Optimization and Pattern Recognition. CQC designs solutions such as a proprietary platform agnostic compiler that will allow developers and users to benefit from Quantum Computing even in its earliest forms. CQC also has a growing focus in Quantum Technologies that relate to encryption and security.
  • 1QBit – Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, 1QBit builds quantum and quantum-inspired software designed to solve the world’s most demanding computational challenges. The company’s hardware-agnostic platforms and services are designed to enable the development of applications which scale alongside the advances in both classical and quantum computers. 1QBit is backed by Fujitsu Limited, CME Ventures, Accenture, Allianz and The Royal Bank of Scotland.  
Initial IBM Q Network partners, members, and hubs announced in December 2017 include: JP Morgan Chase, Daimler, Samsung, JSR, Barclays, Keio University, Honda, Oak Ridge National Lab, University of Oxford, University of Melbourne, Hitachi Metals and Nagase. These organizations have cloud-based access to IBM’s quantum computing systems, as well as the opportunity to undertake application research and development with IBM scientists, and engage in training and skills-building workshops with IBM.
While quantum computing is still in its infancy today, developers, scientists, academics, and professionals are already working with the technology through the IBM Q Experience, an openly available cloud based platform for quantum experimentation and learning; and QISKit, an open source quantum software developer kit. In fact, since 2016, more than 80,000 users have run more than 3 million remote executions on cloud quantum computing resources using QISKit, and more than 60 research publications have been written based on the technology.
QISKit is a collection of software, documentation, and demos related to building quantum programs and running them on simulators and real hardware. Startups will be able to use QISKit and IBM Q to develop applications, discover new algorithms, and prototype use cases for potential applications. Together with the current  QISKit.org community, we can all collaborate to support the creation of new quantum software functionality, expand the rich set of current tools, and drive adoption of QISKit across the industry.
Our team couldn’t be more excited to begin working closely with these industry leading startups to explore how quantum computing may address today’s unsolvable problems in industries such as financial services, automotive or chemistry. We believe that extending our sphere of collaborators to include the startup community will help to rapidly foster growth at all levels of the quantum stack and advance early applications.

This story first appeared on the IBM Research Blog.