Northern Lights: Espoo QC Startup IQM

QC startup IQM is showing the region how things are done in Finland

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QC Startup IQM

Northern Exposure

Quantum computing (QC) is the new byword in disruptive technology. Notwithstanding Finnish-owned behemoth Nokia Bell Labs, Helsinki-based Quantastica is one of only two representatives in the QC startup sector in Finland.

Another, based just twenty kilometres west of the capital, is making its own QC inroads.

Espoo is nothing remarkable to look at at first glance. Like all Scandinavian towns, it is clean, compact and damn cold in winter. Hometown of 2007 World Formula One World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, the underlying calmness hides a vibrancy that is the base of many major global companies like HMD Global, Tieto and Nokia to add to the plethora of startups that work on ideas they hope will change the world and their founders’ fortunes.

Yet it holds a secret.

A standard-bearer of QC operates there.

Thirteen Million Bucks

IQM is a company that hopes to shape the QC technological landscape.

Co-founded as spin-out of the Quantum Computing and Devices research group at Aalto University by Prof. Mikko Möttönen, Dr. Jan Goetz, Dr. Juha Vartiainen, Dr. Kuan Tan in 2018, the startup’s goal is to construct a scalable quantum-hardware system which works using superconducting qubits.

IQM is set to create value based on the power of quantum technologies

— IQM mission statement

Like countless other startups in the industry, the four scientists believe QC will break the deadlock which classical computers seem unable to solve. Such intractable issues like the production of new materials, or in the creation of molecular simulations that can lead to the discovery of new drugs which will, they hope, lead to the inevitable eradication of what are currently incurable diseases. Lastly, they are convinced QC will solve difficult mathematical problems in a matter of minutes, not centuries or even longer.

Whether or not IQM gets to realize these plans will first of all depend on the investment and the steady stream of cash from VCs to keep the R&D alive.

Luckily for IQM, half the battle is already won.

In July of this year, the startup received the tidy sum of $13m in an initial seed round. The cash, put up by a number of investors that included Matadero QED, Mig Fonds, Vito Ventures, OpenOcean, and Maki.vc, will be pumped into R&D projects.

From the investment team, IQM has been joined by strategic partner Dr. Axel Thierauf of MIGs. He will be filling the role of chairman of the board. With him, as a board member representing OpenOcean, is Ekaterina Almasque.

Of the investment and partnership, Almasque had this to say:

‘Today’s software solutions are constrained by the limitations of CPUs and GPUs, making more complex optimization, modelling and artificial intelligence workloads not feasible. IQM’s fault-tolerant quantum processor architecture will open the door for more powerful computationally intensive tasks. The talented team is set to enable a unique quantum cloud offering and ignite a stronger quantum software eco-system in Europe.’

Bright Future

Finland is — at least according to online listicles, churnalism and other sources in the media — the happiest nation on earth. Add to this the Suomi work ethic, regarded as the true representative of punctuality, honesty and work-life balance, the cash pumped into IQM is ‘money well spent’ by the investors. Only time will tell what the outcome will be, however. But if companies like Nokia and Kone are anything to go by, the future for this Espoo startup looks very, very bright indeed.

‘Our headquarters in Finlanda hub of quantum researchis a powerful differentiator for IQM. It gives us access to technologists doing ground-breaking work, and puts us close to institutions offering fabrication facilities with cutting-edge process technologies that we will use to develop our products.

— Professor Mikko Möttönen