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IBM is doing something with quantum computing that’s never been done before

Updated Apr 5th, 2018 12:57PM EDT
IBM Q Network Quantum Computing
Image: IBM

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There’s no doubt that one of the most important things happening in the world of tech right now is quantum computing. It’s also one of the least understood aspects of modern computing. It sounds complicated and boring, and it lacks consumer-facing applications that could make quantum computing popular with regular people. But the technology is evolving at a fast pace, and IBM, one of the pioneers in the business, might fix that.

IBM announced on Thursday that it is making its quantum computers available to a variety of startups in various fields, giving them access for the first time ever to the pricey and highly advanced tech, while simultaneously helping IBM accelerate its own innovations in the quantum computing space.

At the first IBM Q Summit in Silicon Valley, IBM revealed the names of the first startups that will join the IBM Q Network and receive cloud-based access to IBM’s real quantum computers and other resources. These companies will then be able to run quantum computing experiments, test the capabilities of IBM quantum computers, and collaborate with IBM researchers and other IBM Q Network organizations on the development of their quantum computing projects.

Resources including the IBM Q Experience, a cloud-based platform for quantum experimentation and learning, and QISKit, an open source quantum software developer kit for real quantum computing hardware, will also be available to the startups or to anyone interested in the field.

IBM says that in just one year, more than 80,000 users have run more than 3 million remote executions on cloud quantum computing resources with the help of the SDK. Moreover, more than 60 research papers have been written with the help of the technology.

All that still sounds boring to regular computer users, as long as the actual benefits of quantum computing aren’t explained with the help of actual real-world applications. That’s hopefully where these startups come in. With IBM’s help, they may end up redefining various aspects of current computing. Here are the startups joining IBM Q Network today (our emphasis on their fields of interest):

  • 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.

Head to IBM’s site for more info.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.