Startup#8 Quantum Computers




Now this may sound like science fiction, but recent advances make this a technology worth exploring as a Startup.  The idea is to tie-up with a University that already houses a Quantum Computer(QC) and build the technology over the cloud for developers to connect to the QC and explore use cases for this new technology.

State-of-the art Quantum computers solve very limited set of problems and one has to carefully filter out the hype around it. They do not replace conventional computing or the Nervana-Intel style neuro-morphic computing. The theory talks about lots of approaches to build a QC. So far 2 approaches have resulted in actual hardware that can run simulations. Similar to general AI and specialized AI, there is the Gate-approach (supports general computing) and there is the D-wave company ADIABATIC approach that supports only a limited class of algorithms (supporters claim it is enough to be good at these, detractors claim that traditional Supercomputers will perform better.

  As per information in the public domain, this is how they go about it:


  • Microsoft (topological quantum computing)
  • Intel and QuTech (superconducting, solid state)
  • IBM (superconducting qubits, theory)
  • HP (solid state qubits, including diamond qubits)
  • NEC (superconducting qubits, theory)


  • Dwave (adiabatic, unstable bits) Customers: Google, Lockheed Martin, Volkswalgen


  • NASA and other Non-Profits etc. (theory, superconducting, solid state and adiabatic)
  • Google (theory, superconducting, solid state and adiabatic)


1 Idea –  Tie-up with a University that already houses a Quantum Computer(QC) and build the technology over the cloud for developers to connect to the QC and explore use cases for this new technology.   Firms with significant R&D budgets in the Financial Services, Life Sciences, Designers of Drugs and new materials are early adopters.

2 Revenue Model – Priced around the SERVICES for Customers who want to explore what QCs can do and cannot do.

Consulting – providing a Customized Report for the Customer’s business

Training – Introducing Quantum Computing software to the Customers’ Software Team

Implementation:  Developing custom software and algorithms to implement suggestions in the Customized Report including IP and Tech Transfer

Hardware – If you have the skills to develop and sell hardware, this is a good opportunity as Dwave sells its QCs at $5 million dollars a piece.

3 Challenges –

  • Engineering challenge – Quantum computers are expensive and hard to build and maintain and its hard to find skilled talent.   So startups who want to own and integrate hardware, software and applications will need deep expertise and funding, today mostly limited to universities and a handful of startups.
  • Performance limitations – Much like how Electric vehicles struggled to compete with gas-powered automobiles¹, QCs also will take an uncertain number of years to surface as a superior alternative.  \
  • Currently they are inferior and no “Quantum Speedups” are reported though there is a lot of hype² around it.   Hardware and technology-agnostic Quantum speedup benchmarks have been established but not surpassed.

¹  See Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma,  the last section has a case study on rapid improvement in EVs).

² Canadian leader in QC, Dwave Systems has been mired in controversy for making speed-up claims.

Also check these cool companies out who provide cloud services to test programs on QCs:  

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