By Jane Lanhee Lee
OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – Sydney-based startup Q-CTRL, whose software helps run quantum computers more accurately, said on Tuesday it raised $27.4 million with Salesforce Ventures joining as a new investor.
Quantum computers, which run their processes based on the theories of quantum physics, could one day carry out certain calculations millions of times quicker than the fastest super computers today. Billions of dollars have been invested to prepare for the moment quantum computers can outperform classical computers on important tasks as those could be industry changing, experts say.
“Quantum Computers right now almost never give you the right answer,” said Q-CTRL CEO and Founder Michael Biercuk, adding that with a small quantum computer with about 16 quantum bits, or qubits, the chances of getting the right answer is one in a million. “We bump that up thousands of times to make it very useful.”
The more qubits the machine has, the more powerful the computer is. Several quantum computer makers say they will have over a thousand qubits in the next one to two years. But these atomic level qubits are prone to a lot of interference from the environment, leaving a gap between what they could do and what a user actually experiences.
Biercuk explains it is like the old television sets whose pictures are obscured behind white snow, or interference. Q-CTRL’s software helps see through some of that static to increase the chances of reading the right answer from the quantum machine.
He said while the world waits for bigger, more accurate quantum computers, corporations are pouring in money to be ready for the day when a quantum computer can beat a classical one in something useful. Biercuk said chemistry or finance is the area where that could happen first.
“When we talk to end users of quantum computers for one of our products, almost every company that’s come to us has been a financial institution,” said Biercuk.
Q-CTRL plans to use the funding for sales and marketing and will grow its team to 120 from 80 this year. It said it booked over $15 million in revenue between its quantum computing and quantum sensing divisions last year.
It works with both quantum computer hardware and software makers, including IBM, IONQ, and Classiq.
(Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)