Nov 30, 2021 - Technology

Major quantum computing software and hardware companies are merging

Hardware chamber Quantiniuum quantum computer
The hardware chamber of a Quantiniuum quantum computer. Credit: Quantinuum

Two major quantum computing companies — one in hardware and one in software — are merging to create a new firm called Quantinuum.

Why it matters: The merger is a sign of the growing maturity of the quantum computing industry, as it begins to shift from the lab to actually solving difficult to compute problems in the real world.

Driving the news: Honeywell Quantum Solutions, which makes quantum computers that use trapped-ion technologies, will merge with the U.K. quantum software company Cambridge Quantum, the firms announced Tuesday.

  • Ilyas Khan, the founder of Cambridge Quantum, will serve as the CEO of the new company, while Honeywell's Tony Uttley will serve as president and COO.
  • The new company says that it will be the largest integrated quantum computing company in the world, with approximately 400 staff in the U.S. and abroad.
  • "This is an opportunity for a new company to be a new center of gravity for the quantum ecosystem," says Uttley. "It's a match of best in class quantum software and best in class quantum hardware."

By the numbers: Honeywell, which announced it would spin off its quantum division six months ago, will be the largest initial shareholder in Quantinuum with 54% ownership in the new company.

  • Honeywell will also invest nearly $300 million in Quantinuum, and will act as both a supplier of its ion-trap hardware and an initial customer.

Background: Quantum is considered the next stage in computing evolution, making use of the often weird physics of quantum mechanics to produce computers and accompanying algorithms capable of solving problems beyond the ability of classical computers.

What's next: Quantinuum's first new offering, a quantum-focused cybersecurity product, will launch in December, to be followed next year by a quantum chemistry product.

The bottom line: "People are saying that it will be 5 or 10 or 15 years before quantum computers do something useful," says Uttley. "But we think the systems that exist now are extraordinary, and we shouldn't lose sight of what's possible today."

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