Quantum computing is an exciting new frontier in technology with the potential to transform industries and solve previously intractable problems. While tech giants like IBM, Google, and Microsoft are investing heavily in quantum computing research, a new generation of startups is also making waves in this burgeoning field. Let’s take a look at 12 quantum computing startups that show tremendous promise.
PsiQuantum is developing powerful quantum computing systems using silicon photonics. Based in Palo Alto, California, this startup was founded in 2015 by researchers from the University of Bristol. PsiQuantum made headlines in 2022 when it achieved a $1.5 billion valuation after a massive funding round.
So what makes PsiQuantum special? Two words: photon qubits. Unlike other quantum computing platforms that use superconducting circuits or trapped ions, PsiQuantum uses photons of light as qubits. This photonic approach allows the startup to pack more qubits onto a chip compared to other methods. PsiQuantum claims its coming quantum systems will harness over 1 million qubits, a staggering figure when most existing quantum computers have less than 100 qubits.
IonQ leverages trapped atoms technology to build high-performance quantum computers. Founded in 2015 by physicists Jungsang Kim and Chris Monroe, this Maryland-based startup went public in 2021 through a SPAC merger, making it the first publicly-traded quantum computing company.
IonQ’s systems use ytterbium atoms suspended in electromagnetic fields as qubits. This trapped ion approach provides stability for quantum calculations, enabling IonQ to achieve industry-leading qubit counts. In late 2022, the startup unveiled a system with 512 qubits, far above what other companies have demonstrated so far. IonQ’s roadmap includes million-qubit computers by 2026.
Rigetti Computing integrates quantum processing units with classical systems for practical hybrid algorithms. Founded in 2013 by Chad Rigetti, a former researcher at IBM and Yale, this California-based startup focuses on creating quantum advantage through a full-stack hardware and software solution.
Rigetti’s approach combines its dedicated quantum processing units with conventional computing resources. This hybrid model supports algorithms that offload certain complex tasks to the quantum subsystem. In 2023, Rigetti announced its Aspen-11 system with 116 qubits using superconducting circuits. The company plans to scale up to ~4000 qubits by 2025.
Xanadu is pursuing photonic quantum computing with its unique architecture based on Gaussian boson sampling. Established in 2016 and headquartered in Toronto, Xanadu’s founding team consists of quantum physicists and engineers from MIT, IBM, and Google.
Unlike digital quantum computers from other startups, Xanadu machines perform analog quantum sampling. The company uses silicon photonic chips with squeezed states of light to demonstrate computational speed-ups with just a few hundred photons. While still an early technology, Xanadu’s approach hints at the potential for room-temperature quantum devices suitable for mainstream applications.
Quantum Machines provides the classical hardware and software to operate quantum computers. This startup was founded in 2018 by three physicists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Quantum Machines focuses on the classical control equipment needed to operate quantum processors.
The company’s Quantum Orchestration Platform includes analog and digital hardware paired with firmware and software to manage quantum systems. Without this classical instrumentation, quantum computers cannot initialize qubits, read out results, and implement algorithmic gates – no matter how advanced the quantum chip itself might be. Quantum Machines aims to become the “brains” of quantum systems offered by hardware startups and academic labs alike.
Super.tech leverages quantum machine learning algorithms on existing quantum hardware. Established in 2020 by researchers from MIT, this California-based startup focuses on quantum machine learning applications.
Quantum machine learning utilizes quantum versions of algorithms like clustering, principal component analysis, and neural networks. Super.tech researchers implement these algorithms on quantum hardware from providers like IonQ, Rigetti, Xanadu, etc. By concentrating on the software side, Super.tech wants to find practical ML applications for noisy, intermediate-scale quantum systems available currently.
Horizon Quantum Computing builds software tools to enhance productivity on quantum hardware. Founded in 2021 by a team from leading national labs in Singapore, Horizon provides software to help developers productively use small and mid-sized quantum processors.
These include compilers, simulators, verification tools, and cloud-based developer frameworks. Horizon’s tools connect with quantum backends from IBM, Rigetti, IonQ and other providers. The startup’s goal is to build a collaborative ecosystem for exploring quantum algorithms – even as hardware capabilities remain limited in the near term.
Quantinuum offers quantum cybersecurity solutions to protect data now and in the quantum future. Formed in 2021 via the merger of Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum, Quantinuum leverages two decades of quantum research at Honeywell.
Based in the UK and Colorado, Quantinuum offers cybersecurity keys generated via quantum processes that can secure data today and remain resistant to attacks from quantum computers in the future. The startup also develops Quantum System Modelling and Simulation software to simulate quantum circuits on classical hardware.
With one of the longest track records in quantum computing research via Honeywell’s efforts, Quantinuum aims to translate commercial and government demand for quantum security into offering real-world quantum advantage.
Pasqal employs neutral atoms floating in optical traps to build programmable quantum processors. Founded in 2019 by scientists from the University of California, Pasqal creates quantum computers using individual atoms as qubits.
The startup’s systems utilize manipulated neutral atoms trapped in 3D optical lattices. This approach allows the qubits to avoid noise and interference during quantum operations. Pasqal announced a 100 qubit system in 2022 and has set roadmap targets of 1000+ qubits by 2024.
Based in Paris with offices in Chicago, Pasqal announced $100 million in Series B funding in late 2023. The startup aims to offer cloud access to quantum resources for researchers and enterprises alike.
Quantum Brilliance fabricates synthetic diamonds with embedded color centers to produce robust qubits. Formed by researchers from Germany’s Julius-Maximilian University in 2018, Quantum Brilliance leverages advanced diamond material science. The startup produces lab-grown diamonds with nitrogen-vacancy (NV) defects whose quantum states serve as qubits. These defect sites offer stable, addressable spins for high-fidelity qubit control while the diamond acts as a room-temperature vessel isolated from environmental noise.
Quantum Brilliance aims to overcome qubit scaling challenges by packing billions of these robust qubits into layered diamond wafers. The startup announced €23 million in Series A funding in June 2022.
ColdQuanta harnesses ultracold atom physics to create stable qubits for quantum computing. Founded in 2007 by Mark Saffman and Dana Anderson from University of Wisconsin, ColdQuanta has focused on quantum tech for over 15 years.
Based in Colorado and Wisconsin, the company manufactures sophisticated physics instruments that produce “cold atoms” through laser cooling and trapping techniques originating from atomic clock research. These cold atoms are used as qubits inside ColdQuanta’s Hilbert quantum computer. The startup has raised $100 million in VC funding including from Airbus Ventures and other investors. ColdQuanta aims to commercialize quantum systems tailored toward applications in secure comms, precise navigation, and radio wave sensing.
Entangled Networks offers quantum communication systems with high data rates across long distances. Founded in 2019 and based in Toronto, Entangled Networks was created by physicist Vadim Makarov an expert in quantum non-locality. The startup produces quantum communication terminals that use the phenomenon of entanglement to securely transmit keys for encrypting messages. Their systems can sustain entanglement over dozens of kilometers of fiber as photons propagate between the two ends.
Entangled Networks is utilizing recent advances in photon detection, correlation extraction, and noise reduction to build market-ready quantum encryption products for securing communications. The startup has raised $2.5 million in early funding so far. Their goal is to eclipse older quantum key distribution schemes with higher throughputs and increased range capabilities.
Universal Quantum works on sampling algorithms using near-term quantum hardware with a focus on finance and optimization use cases. Established in 2018 by Goldman Sachs veteran CEO Vijay Jain, New Jersey-based Universal Quantum partners with IonQ and other hardware providers.
The startup is deploying quantum machine learning techniques using algorithm frameworks tailored to analyzing risk scenarios for options pricing and fraud detection. By concentrating on sampling-based algorithms rather than full fault-tolerance, Universal Quantum hopes to extract value from today’s noisy but rapidly improving quantum systems.
Quantum computing holds enormous promise across industries like healthcare, energy, finance, transportation, and more. As the starups above demonstrate, tremendous technological diversity exists in this field – whether photonic systems, trapped ions and atoms, superconducting circuits, or defects in diamond. While milestones continue to advance, real-world quantum advantage remains elusive but appears on the horizon. Hybrid algorithms, quantum machine learning, and quantum communications may arrive first while researchers continue the long-term push toward full fault-tolerant, general purpose quantum computers.
Excitement is boundless, but patience remains key too. The quantum startups above represent over a billion dollars in recent funding based on a shared belief that quantum technology, in some shape or form, will transform computing and unlock as-yet unforeseen possibilities. By balancing vibrant optimism with clear eyes on the present, both investors and researchers are placing their bets on quantum’s chances.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is quantum computing?
Quantum computing utilizes quantum mechanical phenomena like entanglement, superposition, and interference to perform calculations fundamentally differently from classical computing. This can enable exponential speedups for problems in optimization, machine learning, chemistry simulation, and more.
How is quantum computing different from classical computing?
Unlike classical computer bits existing as 0 or 1, quantum bits (qubits) can exist as 0 and 1 simultaneously. Qubits are linked via the quantum effect of entanglement, enabling massive parallelism. Quantum computers process information by manipulating qubit states through precise pulses and measurements.
When will general purpose quantum computers be available?
Most experts estimate that fully fault-tolerant, general purpose quantum computers are at least 10-15 years away. However, noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) systems with hundreds or a few thousand qubits exist today and can offer performance advantages over classical hardware for certain niche applications.
What industries will benefit most from quantum computing?
Quantum computing shows early promise for sectors like finance, healthcare, energy, chemicals, artificial intelligence, aerospace, and cryptography. However, entirely new use cases could emerge as developers experiment on quantum hardware and foresee applications not possible with current classical computing frameworks alone.
Who are the major players in quantum computing technology?
Along with startups discussed earlier, significant quantum computing development is underway at companies like IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, Honeywell, and emerging hardware startups. Government labs and academic institutions are also pushing this technology forward through collaborative partnerships with industry.
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