Finnish firms tackle quantum computing from many angles
A window to the future. The Espoo-headquartered developer of quantum computers, IQM, has opened its first office outside Europe, in Singapore.IQM
Finland’s IQM has set up shop in Singapore, Quanscient has bagged funding to enable complex simulations and SemiQon has turned to silicon to cut the cost of quantum computers.
IQM Quantum Computers has set up its first office outside Europe, in Singapore.
The Espoo-headquartered developer of quantum computers revealed earlier this month that the aim of the expansion is to build quantum computers for data centres and national laboratories, and accelerate quantum technology-related research, development and education through public-private collaboration in the Asia-Pacific.
Expanding to the region aligns with the company’s commitment to building “world-leading quantum computers for the wellbeing of humankind, now and for the future,” stated Jan Goetz, CEO of IQM.
“Our regional team will play a crucial role in broadening our global development,” he envisaged. “We look forward to partnering with important players in the value chain as we continue to push the boundaries of the ecosystem.”
Singapore, the company highlighted, offers access to high-quality talent, research capabilities, technology transfer capacity and quantum readiness.
IQM’s other offices are located in Madrid, Munich and Paris.
The company reported a month earlier that it has been selected to deliver quantum processing units for the first quantum computer in Spain, which is to be integrated with MareNostrum 5, a supercomputer at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre.
“This is a significant announcement for IQM,” stated Goetz.
CEO Jan Goetz of IQM says the tremendous potential of quantum computing is subject to misconceptions that need to be dispelled in order to advance the technology.IQM
Integrating the quantum computer with the supercomputer has the potential to increase the impact of research and innovation by enabling new complementary solutions for businesses, research institutions and public organisations. It can also strengthen industrial and technological development in Spain.
Researchers in Finland have had access to the combination of a supercomputer and general-purpose quantum computer since November, when Helmi, the five-qubit quantum computer of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, was connected with LUMI, the largest supercomputer in Europe.
Quanscient bags EUR 3.9 million in funding
Quanscient in April announced it has raised 3.9 million euros in seed financing to further its expansion and product development.
The Tampere-based startup provides a cloud and quantum computing-powered platform that enables companies to conduct multiphysics simulations to not only accelerate product development and market entry, but also optimise the energy-efficiency and sustainability of products.
The platform promises time and cost savings particularly for companies that need to carry out complex simulations for, for instance, aerospace technologies, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices or superconductor technologies, which are critical for fusion energy, according to Juha Riippi, CEO of Quanscient.
“With the existing solutions, it can take up to a month to run a superconductor simulation to provide feedback for product development,” he said. “Quanscient can do this in a few hours.”
The simulation technology has already been successfully trialled with some leading global companies, including Intel.
Tampere-based Quanscient says companies can save money and time by scrapping wind-tunnel and other complex tests with quantum computing-powered simulations.Quanscient
Riippi estimated that quantum simulations can replace more expensive and time-consuming physical tests, such as wind-tunnel tests for aerospace and automotive hardware. The simulation data, though, can additionally be used to train machine-learning models utilised in product development.
“The whole industry is in an interesting phase,” he told.
Led by Maki.vc, the financing round also secured the startup 446 000 euros in non-equity funding from Business Finland. Ilkka Kivimäki, founding partner at Maki.vc, said the venture capital fund is “thrilled” to be supporting Quanscient.
“Quanscient’s product delivers unforeseen speed, scale and accuracy for simulations. The product enables flexibility by allowing the users to combine any physics in a single simulation, providing unforeseen accuracy and usability when solving multiphysics problems,” he attested.
VTT spin-out to make quantum computers more affordable
SemiQon has taken its first steps toward developing a new kind of quantum processor chip in order to make future computers more affordable, scalable and sustainable.
After spinning out from VTT in February, the startup intends to build quantum chips from silicon semiconductors rather than non-standard materials, making the chips easier to manufacture and able to function at higher temperatures.
Its efforts are backed by Voima Ventures.
Scalability issues and prohibitive costs have limited the number of quantum computers globally to fewer than 100, according to SemiQon. The startup believes the relatively inexpensive and easy-to-replicate silicon quantum dot-based technology could facilitate scaling and slash production costs in part due to the existence of large-scale manufacturing processes and facilities for silicon chips, which are used in regular computers and electronics.
SemiQon operates one such pilot facility in Finland.
“The chips we manufacture also enable the quantum computer to operate at warmer temperatures – thus requiring only a fraction of the energy needed for alternative solutions,” said Himadri Majumdar, CEO of SemiQon.
CEO of SemiQon Himadri Majumdar highlights that the ability to function at higher temperatures translates to a significant reduction in electricity needs for quantum computers.SemiQon
The startup drew attention to the need to scale up the technology by reminding that although quantum computers excel at optimisation tasks, they will require millions instead of hundreds of qubits of processing power in order to, for example, accurately model viral transmission or innovate climate solutions.
IBM’s Osprey is presently the largest quantum computer in the world, clocking in at 433 qubits. The US company is expected to unveil the 1 121-qubit Condor in 2023.
“Globally, the vast majority of quantum investments have addressed superconducting and other qubit technologies. However, silicon semiconductor qubit technology is still underfunded – despite not being burdened with the scalability challenges that many other technologies face,” said Jussi Sainiemi, partner at Voima Ventures.
A quantum leap in education
IQM has also announced the launch of a course designed to enhance public understanding of quantum computing, its potential and limitations. The free online course is expected to attract high-school and university students, educators and technology enthusiasts who are curious about the fundamentals of quantum computing.
No prior knowledge of the subject is required to participate.
Quantum computing is expected to have a profound impact on industries such as agriculture, cybersecurity, finance, healthcare and logistics in the coming decades. Europe can establish itself as a leader in the much-discussed space only by incorporating the technologies broadly into education, argued IQM.
“The potential is vast, but there are many misconceptions – we also want to help people gain a realistic understanding of the technology and thus contribute to its development,” outlined IQM CEO Goetz.
This is not the first time the company has jumped into the shoes of an educator. It has collaborated with universities and industry partners in the past couple of years to launch a number of quantum-focused education initiatives, such as hackathons and training events.
Elsewhere, VTT has rolled out a series of educational videos to illustrate the disruptive potential of quantum technologies for business. The three episodes that are currently available dive into topics such as the building blocks of quantum computers and applications in pharmaceutical development.