One of the pioneers of Quantum Machine Learning (QML) and quantum computing is Canadian based Xanadu. The makers of the popular toolset PennyLane, has recently announced that it has closed a 100 million dollar series B investment round. The funding comes after speculation earlier in the month and will excite those in the industry as funding flows into the entire Quantum sector.
Grand Aspirations for Photonic Qubits
Xanadu has published work on its scalable photonic quantum computer as a way to increase the power or computing capabilities of Quantum Computers. The funding will be used to expand their capabilities and brings total funding to just shy of $150 M in VC (Venture Capital) funding. The latest funding round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners which has also invested in another Quantum company with different technology named Rigetti, which is using superconducting technology instead of photonics as the basis for its Qubits. Bessemer also led a $79M series C round into the rival company, Rigetti. Certainly, Bessemer Venture Partners is showing itself as one of the investment leaders in the Quantum space, with a dedicated team to work specifically on Quantum deals.
Last year Xanadu published their blueprint for a Scalable Photonic Fault-Tolerant Quantum Computer. The publication outlines how to build a modular photonic based Quantum Computer. There are a few candidates for Qubits – ranging from Ion traps to superconducting and photonic is one such candidate that has produced enormous potential for scale-up.
One of the other well funded Quantum Computing start-up’s to also use light or photonics is PsiQuantum, which has also gained vast amounts of funding ($200M) and has not been shy in ambition in heading towards building devices with a million qubits and has openly discussed readiness for commercialisation and mass fabrication. Technology companies such as IBM, Intel and Honeywell have been developing their own Qubit technologies, based around their own specialisms and areas of expertise. IonQ is using trapped Ion’s as their fundamental unit of computing – qubit – and is planning to get to market via a SPAC. The massive inflows of hundreds of millions are pushing us ever closer to building sizeable machines.
The race is now on to find those technologies that bring some scalable size. We have IBM and Rigetti with their superconducting technologies, but a fairly low number of qubits. Of course, with more qubits then more complex quantum circuits can be built which leads to more useful outcomes in a range of fields such as Drug Discovery and Finance.
Not Just the Qubits: The Quantum EcoSystem
It isn’t all just about the hardware. There is a fight for the ecosystem. IBM was smart in realising that early movers to the quantum cloud could generate a lot of value for the business. IBM was allowing users to run on their Quantum cloud around 5 years ago. Much of the battleground will be not just qubits, but the software that enables users and developers to do something valuable. Xanadu has made a remarkable entry to this field, where it has developed tools that allow developers to build quantum circuits such as VQE with ease and employ Quantum Machine Learning in their workflows. None of this will have been lost on the investors who will no doubt have been impressed by the array of tools – any how well they utilized they are and also how well integrated into the existing offering of quantum languages and toolsets.