The race to develop quantum computers has attracted growing hype in recent years. While it’s hard to know just when this next-generation computing architecture will have a real impact, one European company is preparing to take another significant step forward.
IQM Quantum Computers today announced that it has raised $46 million in venture capital, bringing its total raised to $84 million. MIG Fonds led the round, which included participation from Tesi, OpenOcean, Maki.vc, Vito Ventures, Matadero QED, Vsquared, Salvia GmbH, Santo Venture Capital GmbH, and Tencent.
The Finnish company plans to use this funding to begin selling its first quantum computers. By getting more quantum computers in the hands of users, it hopes to begin refining possible applications and use cases, even as the underlying technology continues to evolve.
“We are building systems that we deliver to supercomputing or research centers,” IQM CEO Jan Goetz said. “At the moment, commercializing doesn’t mean that companies use them to solve their business problems. It’s really delivering the systems to do great research and to build and develop systems further. We want to accelerate the whole development process so that we are getting much faster to the stage that people call ‘quantum advantage,’ where you have a real business benefit from using quantum computers.”
In addition to selling quantum computers, the company partners with large enterprises to co-design quantum computers that focus on specific applications.
“We are basically developing the processors and optimizing from both ends,” Goetz said. “From the bottom up so that we make the hardware better, but then also from the top down by developing the applications. In this way, we find the best fit between the problems the processors can solve and the processor architecture.”
As current processor architecture reaches its physical limits, researchers are hoping quantum computing, which operates at a molecular level, will provide dramatically more powerful computing in the decades to come. Companies such as IBM, Microsoft, and Google have been investing big money in the field. But it has also attracted notable startups, such as D-Wave, which sells access to its quantum computers.
These investments have created a frenzied competition for the best talent in the field. Goetz said IQM, which has offices in Finland and Germany, will use its money to open additional international research centers, in part to attract more quantum talent. The company currently has about 80 employees.
While the technology is still embryonic in many respects, Goetz said it is time to start thinking about business opportunities. Many governments have been promoting quantum computing, and large companies have been making early bets in order to be “quantum-ready” as the technology advances.
“The biggest milestone for us is real commercialization,” Goetz said. “We are building up the company to a more professional level. In addition to the very strong R&D team, we will also have this product pipeline where we are delivering and maintaining services.”