Quantum computing deals show no sign of slowing in 2022. Mergers, venture capital, and partnerships have occurred across the world, demonstrating investor and industry interest in the technology and its expanding ecosystem. The industry recently witnessed its third SPAC merger, as D-Wave announced its intention to go public. Notably, however, there have been no acquisitions. Big Tech and larger companies, despite investing heavily in quantum computing, have so far relied on partnerships and strategic investments to improve their standing.
Venture capital is being poured into innovative startups from China, India, Germany, UK, US, and Canada. This is occurring despite many companies predicting long periods before becoming profitable. The potential reward from grabbing market share and being the first to realize quantum advantage is extremely attractive. In addition, investments are common in companies that span multiple related technologies, such as cybersecurity, AI, and cloud platforms. The funds are used for R&D, hiring, and commercializing technology.
Canada-based D-Wave Systems announced in February that it will merge with DPCM Capital, a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). This is the third quantum computing SPAC after IonQ and Rigetti Computing went public in 2021.
D-Wave is the only company pursuing both quantum annealing and gate-based quantum computers. As a result, it stands to benefit from the quantum optimization market and expects a positive cash flow by 2025, primarily from its platform as a service business (i.e. its Leap platform). 2025 is notable because this is before fully fledged quantum computers are likely to be developed. However, D-Wave expects use cases to develop and hopes to use the funds generated by the SPAC to expand further into the manufacturing, logistics, pharmaceuticals, finance sectors.
In January, Pasqal announced it was merging with Qu&Co. Pascal develops neutral atom-based quantum hardware, while Qu&Co is a quantum algorithm and software developer. The new company will operate across the quantum computing value chain, and both companies hope to build quantum advantage through their complementary technology.
Venture capital in quantum computing
Venture capital in quantum computing is continuing to grow. In 2021, both PsiQuantum and Xanadu received large investments. Deals are occurring across the value chain, in both software and hardware. The deals are evidence of the expanding quantum ecosystem, as companies are involved in multiple related technologies.
Quantum computers have the potential to break public-key cryptography, and therefore many companies are interested in quantum cryptography. UK-based cybersecurity startup PQShield secured $20 million in January. It specializes in post-quantum cryptography and aims to use the funds for further product development and to double its workforce by the end of 2022. QuNu Labs, an India-based quantum cybersecurity company, also received capital. It will use the funds for R&D and will build partnerships in satellite-based quantum key distribution (QKD) technology.
Artificial intelligence and cloud-based quantum services will contribute to the growth of the quantum computing industry. HQS Quantum Simulations received investment in January. It is a German-based quantum software company that specializes in chemical and material science applications and will use the funds to expand its cloud platform. Finland-based QuantrolOx uses machine learning to help tune, stabilize, and optimize qubits. Investors’ willingness to invest in its niche technology demonstrates that the quantum ecosystem is expanding. Developments in machine learning and other technologies will be required to commercialize quantum computing.
However, injecting cash into startups will not enable everything. Supply chain bottlenecks make it hard to obtain key components, and many companies have to grapple with long-term skills shortages.
In January, Menten AI and Xanadu Quantum Technologies announced a partnership. Menten AI is a biotechnology company, and it will use Xanadu’s open-source PennyLane library to improve the design of drug molecules. Quantum computing has the potential to transform the pharmaceutical industry as the extra computational power will enable new drug discovery. Partnerships are also occurring in the finance, energy, and defence sectors. For example, JPMorgan Chase has partnered with Toshiba and E.ON has partnered with IBM Quantum.