On October 23rd 2019, Google claimed that it had finally reached quantum supremacy, succeeding in computing a statistical math problem on its own prototype quantum processor called Sycamore in 200 seconds. Today’s top supercomputers would need approximately 10,000 years to compute it. In other words, a quantum computer has solved a problem that could not be solved by traditional computer science. Google’s findings have been considered a major breakthrough along the road towards realising the immense promise of quantum computing. The quality of current machine learning algorithms is limited by the amount of data that can be computed by a classical computer. Quantum computers offer the ability to exponentially increase the detail with which it trains an algorithm and therefore improve it exponentially. Quantum computing could therefore disrupt industries across a wide spectrum – think about catalyst reactions, material discovery, drug development, cybersecurity, supply chain, financial modelling, etc.
According to an investment study conducted at INSEAD, funding for quantum computing startups has significantly increased over the years, with more and more quantum focused software/full stack companies getting funded at seed and early-stage. In 2014, there were no investments in the area, in 2017, they had already reached 167M$ globally. Private Investors are starting to pour money into the sector, having already funded a few startups with tens of millions of dollars each – including Zapata Computing in the US, 1QBit Canada, and UK-based Cambridge Quantum Computing. Alongside Venture Capital and public investments, hundreds of firms are heavily investing in quantum research projects, with big names such as IBM and Google, of course, but also Alibaba, Hewlett Packard, Tencent, Baidu and Huawei.
However, let’s not believe that quantum computing is there yet. It is still the very beginning and everything has to be built. There might be a parallel to be drawn with the state of AI before 2011, the year of the victory of IBM Watson Jeopardy game. It was followed by the Cambrian explosion of deep learning in 2012 and by the victory of DeepMind AlphaGo in 2016. Yet, despite Google’s recent successes and all the hype that currently surrounds the area , industry experts and academics tend to agree on the fact that quantum computing is still decades away from being widely commercially viable. If we are upfront a quantum wave, is it time to build businesses? Or is too early to take quantum out of the labs? While quantum research is obviously gaining momentum, when will commercial viability follow?
Let’s discuss quantum’s momentum on Wednesday November 27th at 6.15 pm at Station F, with an expert panel composed of:
Fabien Niel: CTO of QuCloud, a quantum startup incubated by Entrepreneur First
Christophe Jurczak: Founder and Partner at Quantonation, an early stage Venture Fund dedicated to Quantum Technologies and Deep Physics
Iordanis Kerenidis: CNRS Senior Researcher at the Algorithms and Complexity Group at IRIF, University Paris Diderot
The event will be moderated by Majdoline Wahbi, Associate at Entrepreneur First.