Ajay Prakash
May 1, 2018 · 8 min read

Quantum, it’s been heralded as the next big thing in the technology space and it’s definitely on the radar of most venture capitalists and institutional investors. However financial investments in the quantum space are not without it’s complexities. In order to accurately determine the viability of projects within the quantum space, one must be able to dissect the technical intricacies of the project itself. Vijay Pande (a general partner at the venture capitalist firm — Andreessen Horowitz) was quoted saying that, when it comes to investments in Quantum;

“It’s hard to talk about the market if I don’t even know what the algorithms are.” — Vijay Pande, Andreessen Horowitz.

Personally, I’ve attended a number of events surrounding the quantum technology space and a large majority of investors share a similar sentiment. Investors are aware that the area is progressing well and largely understand that it’s not a matter of if, but when the technology will become mainstream. It is also apparent that the race for quantum supremacy has officially begun, with the likes of Google, IBM and Intel constantly looking to add to their portfolio. Early-stage quantum startups with potential are therefore likely acquisition targets, and herein lies the investment opportunity. It’s truly time investors got entangled with quantum technology and it’s time that the quantum space attracted more investment opportunities.

Qubits vs. Classical Bits

Classical computers use bits (short for binary-digits) to store information and can only have one of two possible states, 0 or 1. On the other hand, a qubit (short for quantum bit) can exist in either a state of 0, 1 or a superposition of both — thus storing a very different kind of information. So now that we’ve identified the overarching distinction between a bit and a qubit, quantum mechanics starts to act abit more strangely from here on in. Quantum mechanics states that particles are only in superposition when they are in an unmeasured state, and as soon as you try to measure a qubit, it will collapse to the binary values of either 0 or 1. So how does one measure a state that cannot be measured? Scientists and engineers have developed specific quantum gates to find ways to utilise qubits in roundabout ways. For those of you who are aware of classical logic gates, quantum gates operate under a similar principle to classical gates however with the added perks of superposition and quantum entanglement.

A subset of algorithms are currently known that can take advantage of these quantum effects. An example of this is Shor’s Algorithm which is a quantum algorithm designed for integer factorisation that runs significantly faster than the general number field sieve (the most efficient classical factoring algorithm). What does this mean? If it’s possible to run Shor’s Algorithm with enough qubits stably, then it could be used to break public-key cryptography schemes within reasonable time. If you’re interested in delving deeper, have a read of a research article previously published by our team — Quantum Attacks on Bitcoin, and how to protect against them.

From Thought Experiment to Reality

While the distinction between a qubit and a classical bit is clear, it is often asked, “Why don’t we just string together more qubits”? Well … it’s actually not that easy. A qubit was originally derived as a theoretical concept and like most concepts in the field of science, for it to be realized, it requires a greater depth of research and development. And while it is extremely difficult to create, as long as the system is able to superimpose with multiple states and is capable of displaying quantum mechanical properties, a qubit can essentially be created.

In the past decade, quantum computing has transitioned from pure theory to engineered reality, with tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and IBM paving the way forward for quantum technologies. With that being said, there are actually a myriad of ways qubits are being realized, which means — the race for quantum startups and organisations to become the industry leaders in the area of Quantum technologies has just begun. Some of the types of qubits being developed are described below:

  • Superconductor-based Qubits: Google, IBM and Intel are leading the charge with what they believe to be the most effective way to create qubits. This is the process of using superconductor circuits to create qubit architectures that display quantum properties and exhibit <0|1> states through their energy levels.
  • Photon Qubits: Electromagnetic waves can also represent a qubit through their polarisation. A photon can be vertically polarised or horizontally polarised (or superpositioned between the two states). This means, it is possible to create a qubit construct using photons however the way they are interacted and utilised may vary against other types of qubits.
  • Trapped Ion Qubits: This type of system uses ions or charged atomic particles suspended in free space using electromagnetic waves. It’s state is governed by its energy level where the ‘0’ and ‘1’ are formed between ground state and an excited state.
  • Topological Qubits: Despite Microsoft investing multi-millions into the field, topological quantum computers at this stage of their development are purely theoretical. Non-Abelian anyons are the quasi-particles that would form the basis of this computer, however there is no conclusive proof of their existence. To keep things simple, when anyons move in two-dimensional space and swap positions, there is a change in the quantum information they store. Hence by utilising this property we can create quantum computations.

Below is a graph demonstrating the maximum number of qubits able to be used in a processor simultaneously against the date of announcements. There is a clear inflexion point in 2017 which has caused a large spur in growth. The quantum technology opportunity is right now! We are at the precipice of its growth and if acted upon now, an early mover advantage can be established. It is important to invest and fund the correct projects and split funds appropriately to ensure the growth of the quantum technologies market in its formative years and also democratise access to this large opportunity.

Maximum number of qubits able to be used in a processor simultaneously

Quantum will be the Technological Backbone

Quantum technologies will largely be the backbone to most industries in the technology space. It is often thought that the only practical technology of quantum physics is Quantum Computing, however there are actually a multitude of industries that will be affected by this technological innovation.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

AI is a field that is already growing exponentially, however quantum will provide a much needed boost in its computational ability. Back to the days of mathematics, machine learning in it’s essence requires multiplying matrices over and over and over again. Quantum computers are efficient at processing these calculations, and thus will have major implications for the AI and ML fields.

Modern Medicine and Healthcare

Biological processes occur at a nano-scale, and at this scale, the laws of classical physics become less prevalent and the properties of quantum mechanics dominate. To put this scale into perspective, a strand of human DNA is 2.5 nanometers in diameter, whereas a strand of human hair is 40,000 times larger than that. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, that is extremely hard to fathom. However a quantum computer will be capable of efficiently mapping out and predicting the most effective treatments against a disease. What this inherently means is personalised and tailored drugs at scale. This is truly an exciting space as quantum will give rise to the era of modern medicine and healthcare.

Security and Communications

Since the inception of telephone and the internet, over-the-phone and online forms of communication have taken the world by storm. Whilst the current technologies in this space work, they are not entirely secure. Quantum secure communications is anticipated to be the industry standard in the 21st century. The current protocols governing electronic communication networks are largely subject to eavesdropping attacks as they do not alert a user when the network has been breached. However Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) networks are by design more secure than their current counterparts as these system will automatically alter the information being transmitted when the network has been tampered with.

So who else is in this space other than Google, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, …?

On the surface, the market appears to be dominated by the likes of Google, Microsoft, IBM and Intel, and arguably they are. However quantum startups are starting to gain traction in this space. Briefly described below are two established startups.

  • Rigetti Computing, a full-stack quantum computing company. And what does that essentially mean? Madhav Thattai, Rigetti’s Chief Strategy Officer sums it up nicely; “That means we do everything from design and fabrication of quantum chips to packaging the architecture needed to control the chips, and then building the software so that people can write algorithms and program the system”. Their current offering is Forest, a programming and execution environment that interacts with their Quantum Virtual Machine (QVM) for the early development and testing of quantum programs. In that past year, they have raised $US 64M from their Series A and B rounds.
  • ID Quantique, provides quantum-safe cryptography solutions to the financial services industry, enterprises and governments globally by leveraging quantum technology in the field of random number generation and scientific instrumentation. They were recently acquired by SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest wireless carrier, for a total of $US 65 million.

We’re expecting to see an increased number of acquisitions over the next few years as the tech giants look to solidify their positions. The team will be publishing more in-depth startup reviews and quantum updates over the coming weeks, so subscribe to learn more!

Qubit Protocol will Scale Strategic Investment Opportunities

Discerning the differences between early-stage quantum startups and their underlying algorithms and technical nuances isn’t particularly easy for most investors. Quantum is rapidly shifting, and the market is positioning itself for the early-movers to benefit from this growing industry. Opportunities are on the horizon, and it’s time investors were given the technical aptitude to invest in quantum technology.

This is where the Qubit Protocol platform comes in (see this article for an introduction the the platform). The platform is set to democratise investment opportunities and guide commercial research via a panel of leading scientific, technical and business experts, bridging the technical disconnect between investors and quantum startups. Token holders will be able to vote on the most promising quantum startups as reviewed by the panel of leading experts, and users will subsequently reap the benefits as the quantum industry progresses.

We are currently in the process of;

  • Reviewing early-stage startups that have applied for our Qubit Accelerator program — for quantum startups looking to participate in the program, you can apply here. We are always on the lookout for the next quantum startup!
  • Organising a regular Qubit newsletter to keep the community and investors in the loop on all things quantum — you can sign up here.
  • On-boarding more technical and commercial experts to join our expert collective.
  • Forming industry partners. If you are interested in gaining a strategic advantage in the quantum space, drop us an email at partnerships@qubitprotocol.com.
  • Our private sale ICO. If you are interested in participating, please complete this form.

The team is comprised of technical experts in quantum computing, blockchain and commercialisation. Information regarding our pre-sale and white-paper will be released within the coming weeks. If you’re interested in engaging with the rest of the Qubit Protocol community, join the conversation and stay up-to-date using the below.

Published Literature

Articles

Investments and Partnerships

Email us at investments@qubitprotocol.com to inquire about our private pre-sale or partnerships@qubitprotocol.com to inquire about potential partnerships.

Qubit Protocol

Qubit Protocol is a decentralised blockchain enabled governance protocol that utilises the collective intelligence of the quantum science community to make strategic funding decisions on quantum technology projects.

Ajay Prakash

Written by

CEO of Qubit Protocol

Qubit Protocol

Qubit Protocol is a decentralised blockchain enabled governance protocol that utilises the collective intelligence of the quantum science community to make strategic funding decisions on quantum technology projects.

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