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June 9, 2021

Cambridge Quantum and Honeywell form quantum computing “powerhouse”

By Robert Scammell

UK-based Cambridge Quantum Computing is joining with US-based Honeywell Quantum Solutions to form a new company that provides both software and hardware for quantum computers.

Honeywell will spin off its Quantum Solutions business to combine with Cambridge Quantum and invest between $270m and $300m in the new company. It will give Cambridge Quantum access to specialist and high-cost quantum computing hardware.

Honeywell shareholders will own 54% of the new entity, while Cambridge Quantum shareholders will own the remaining 46%.

The new company, which is yet to be named, is aiming to stake its place in the nascent quantum computer industry.

Experts believe that the additional firepower of quantum computers could solve some of the world’s most complex problems at speed in diverse fields such as medicine, material science and finance.

While companies such as IBM and Google are already operating quantum computers, they are not fully-fledged devices which represent the true capabilities of the mainly theoretical tech. For a quantum computer to work in many of the applications which have already been worked out for it, it would need hundreds of thousands, even millions of quantum bits or “qubits”. The highest today’s quasi-quantum computers can manage is around a hundred, and it’ll be decades before the technology evolves.

As Verdict recently explored, these computers are based on the quantum annealing method, meaning they are suited to solving optimisation problems, but incapable of handling more advanced algorithms and problems. Quantum simulators meanwhile, which test quantum computation, essentially mimic quantum computers but run on classical computers.

Behind the deal

Honeywell Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk will become the chairman of the new company, while Cambridge Quantum founder and CEO Ilyas Khan will become its CEO. Honeywell Quantum Solutions President Tony Uttley will keep the same role at the new venture.

The deal builds on Honeywell’s commercial partnership and investment in Cambridge Quantum that began in 2019.

“Joining together into an exciting newly combined enterprise, HQS and CQ will become a global powerhouse that will create and commercialize quantum solutions that address some of humanity’s greatest challenges, while driving the development of what will become a $1 trillion industry,” said Cambridge Quantum Computer’s Khan.

Honeywell’s Adamczyk said: “The new company will have the best talent in the industry, the world’s highest-performing quantum computer, the first and most advanced quantum operating system, and comprehensive, hardware-agnostic software that will drive the future of the quantum computing industry.

Founded in 2014, Cambridge Quantum develops software and algorithms for quantum computation. It has raised a total of $72.8m in funding and counts Honeywell, IBM Ventures and JSR Corporation among its backers.

Honeywell unveiled its first quantum computer in late 2019. Its hardware uses “trapped-ion technology that uses charged atoms to hold quantum information.” The company claims its machine has a maximum quantum volume of 512, a metric used to measure the effectiveness of a quantum computer.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021.