How 10 Asian Companies are Forging The Quantum Computing Industry

Asia plays third fiddle in quantum information science globally. Yet the continent is catching up

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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Playing Catch Up

The quantum computing (QC) industry is gaining traction around the globe. North America and Europe, at the moment at least, are leading the race, both in the private and public sectors. Yet, the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the Indian Subcontinent, are moving forward, too. China’s breakthroughs over the last few years in quantum information science have created a fervour in the technology that many businesses are now trying to capitalize on.

The traditional public companies, especially in Japan, see this as a golden opportunity to get ahead of the pack. Joining them are startups, usually founded by scientists with a heavy entrepreneurial streak.

In Singapore, South Korea and Australasia similar patterns are forming.

The companies here, whether startups or public, have been listed by TQD to give the interested reader an idea of the activity in the QC industry in those regions.

1) Alibaba Group: Public

Founded by Jack Ma in 1999 and known for its business interests in retail, e-commerce and the Internet, it is one of the largest public companies in the world.

As far as the QC activity goes, a partnership between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Alibaba Group’s cloud computing subsidiary created the Alibaba Quantum Computing Laboratory. The lab takes advantage of Alibaba’s skill set in cloud computing and algorithms while utilizing the academy’s expertise in quantum artificial intelligence (AI) and QC.

Currently, Alibaba Quantum Computing Laboratory is researching quantum theory, with the idea of creating innovative security solutions within multiple industries like data collection and e-commerce.

2) Entropica Labs: Private

Established in 2018 and based in Singapore, Entropica Labs’ three technically-minded founders, Tommaso Demarie, Ewan Munro and Joaquín Keller have all had experience in the QC space in different capacities and bring their unique perspectives and smarts to help their startup make a name for itself.

‘A laptop is a car. A supercomputer is a plane. A quantum computer is a rocket. It can take us to places that classical computers will never be able to reach.’

 — Tommaso Demarie, CEO and co-founder of Entropica Labs

With the goal of using ‘machine learning (ML) with quantum computers to generate new actionable knowledge in biology and medicine’, the three are betting on creating cost-effective solutions in quantum information science in the medical arena.

3) A* Quantum: Private

Very much in stealth mode if the Tokyo-based startup’s website is anything to go by, A* Quantum’s services include:

 — Software development based on both annealing and gate methods

 — [and] fostering developers and coordinating between companies in cooperation with universities

President and CEO Koji Funabashi and his technical team ‘provide software that can be easily used by researchers and end-users to solve their own problems.’

Leap The World

 — A* Quantum

Like other Japanese startups I have encountered in the industry with their lack of English language promotional material and social media presence, A* Quantum will have to pull out all the stops to raise awareness of their activities outside of Japan.

A bright spot, however, is the 20 million yen (approximately $180,000) the startup has in funding.

Let’s hope we hear more from this company in the future.

4) Baidu Research: Public

Up and running since 2018 with offices in Silicon Valley, Seattle and Beijing, Baidu’s QC research wing is called the Institute of Quantum Computing.

The Institute of Quantum Computing’s mission is to

[…]be a world-class Quantum Artificial Intelligence (AI) research strength, and to continuously integrate relevant quantum technologies into Baidu

Headed by founder and Director Professor Runyao Duan, who received his Ph.D. from the Department of Computer Science and Technology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, he is a highly decorated physicist in quantum information science.

The institute’s three areas of focus are:

 — Quantum AI

 — Quantum Architecture

 — Quantum Algorithms

Talking about the set up an Institute for Quantum Computing in early 2018, Runyao Duan commented:

‘We are planning to develop the institute to a world-class level and will gradually apply quantum computing in Baidu’s future businesses within five years.’

With enough liquidity, a quality team and ambition in the space, Baidu’s Institute of Quantum Computing is on the right path to breaking new ground in QC.

5) Automatski: Private

Initially founded in London in 2014, Automatski moved to Bengaluru in 2016. Currently, the startup is undergoing a restructuring process and moving its activities to California.

Founder and CEO of the startup Aditya Yadav, a self-proclaimed ‘polymath, thinker, comedian, satirist, inventor, scientist, physicist, visionary, entrepreneur, consultant, adviser, mentor, coach, author, architect, and data scientist’. It is clear, then, the company has the right person leading the company in its ventures.

We have defined, and are defining, the next thousand years of human evolution

 — Automatski

Strong words. I hope they can keep their promise.

The startup has many areas of hard tech where they are presently conducting research. This includes robotics, ML, AI, deep learning (DL) and data science.

Its research on QC encompasses the following areas:

— Using Physics to Solve Mathematics & Computer Science Problems

 — Using Hamiltonians [Energy Functions] in Infinite Hilbert Spaces [Dimensions]

 — [Developing] a Universal [General Purpose] Circuit-based Quantum Computer

 — [Developing] a Universal [General Purpose] Adiabatic Quantum Computer

 — [Developing] a Quantum Annealer Quantum Computer

 — [Developing] Quantum Simulations

Phew, that’s a lot, which will require tons of money, specialist knowledge and expertise. Whether Automatski is up to the task is difficult to say, but we have to give them credit for trying to mix it in an industry that is both demanding and cutthroat.

6) h-Bar Consultants: Private

h-Bar Consultants, a strategic partner of TQD, is the world’s first QC consultancy firm that began life 2016 in Australia by founding partners Simon Devitt, Jared Cole and Keith Schwab, all experts in the fields of quantum physics and quantum technology.

Invest Intelligently in the 21st Century

 — H-Bar Consultants

‘Experts in the fields of quantum technology and quantum physics’, they offer services for both the private and public sectors. With an impressive five decades of experience in the quantum information sciences, the three-person team’s advice and consultation services have come at a time when QC is just beginning to gain popularity and acceptance within the wider scientific community.

President of h-Bar Consultants is Simon Devitt, who gained his Ph.D. in physics in 2007 from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Completing his Ph.D. in theoretical and mathematical physics from the University of Melbourne in 2006, Jared Cole’s experience has been in condensed matter physics and quantum physics.

With a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996, Keith Schwab’s research interests encompass quantum effects in nano-mechanical/electronic systems at ultra-low temperatures and ultra-sensitive, quantum-limited microwave measurement techniques.

h-Bar Consultant’s expert team can only add value to the growing QC ecosystem. We wait to see their effect on the landscape and hope they can change it for the better.

7) JSR Corporation: Public

Incorporated in 1957, JSR Corporation, originally Japan Synthetic Rubber Co., Ltd, is a Tokyo-based multinational that ‘provide[s] products with a global top-level market share such as lithography materials, advanced electronic materials and liquid crystal display (LCD) materials.’

With factories around the world, JSR Corporation has a proven track record in its industry. As far as QC goes, the corporation Advanced Technology Initiative, with projects in AI, VR, IoT, also includes a 2017 deal with the IBM Q Network, when JSR became one of the American tech giant’s first clients.

We create value through materials to enrich society, people and the environment

 — JSR Corporation

8) QuantumCTek: Private

QuantumCTek is a Chinese initiative out of Heifei City, and is a spin-out from a quantum physics research group at the Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Science (HFNL) and University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). Specializing in network security products that use quantum technology as its foundation, the startup designs and produces modern communication systems for government operations and the financial sector.

Quantum Secures Every Bit

 — QuantumCTek

QuantumCTek’s Chairman of the Board of Directors is Cheng-Zhi Peng, a professor at the University of Science and Technology of China. Cheng-Zhi Peng has many papers in publications such as the prestigious Nature, so he has proven expertise in his field. His most famous paper to date, 100 km free-space quantum teleportation and entanglement distribution’, was selected in 2012 for the “Feature of the Year” in Nature.

9) Quintessence Labs: Private

Another Australian company founded in the country’s capital Canberra in 2008 is Quintessence Labs, whose business is in data protection by using the power of quantum information systems.

We push the boundaries of what’s possible in data security, so you can push boundaries of your own

 — Quintessence Labs

A leader in the industry, the company offers products and solutions in several areas which include:

 — qStream™ Quantum Random Number Generator

 — qRand™ Quantum Entropy Enhancer

 — qCrypt™ Encryption Key and Policy Manager

 — qClient™ Software Development Kit

 — qOptica™Quantum Key Distribution

 — qProtect™ Virtual Zeroization

To find out more about these exciting innovations, I recommend heading on over to the detailed and professionally set up website.

The brains behind the company, founder and CEO Vikram Sharma, has a background in quantum cryptography stretching back two decades. Sharma — a Sloan Fellow from Stanford University, as well as holding a Ph.D. in quantum physics from the Australian National University (ANU) — is as well qualified as anybody else in the space.

10) NTT Basic Research Laboratories: Public

NTT Basic Research Laboratories from Tokyo, Japan, though more formally known as the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, was founded in 1952 as a government monopoly before becoming a private company in 1985. With over 280,000 employees and revenue figures of ¥11.8 trillion (2018), it is the third-largest telecommunications company in the world.

NTT’s philosophy is

 — to create new principles and concepts that allow us to overcome the limitations of current network technologies

 — to extend our knowledge of the science and technology that will lead to medium and long-term innovations

NTT believes these principles

will both contribute to the success of NTT’s business and promote advances in science that will ultimately benefit all mankind

The company has a few research groups focussed exclusively on QC and the wider sphere of quantum information science technology. These include the Superconducting Quantum Circuit Research Group, headed by Dr. Shiro Saito, the Quantum Solid State Physics Research Group, which is led by Dr. Koji Muraki, the Quantum Optical State Control Research Group under the stewardship of Dr. Hiroki Takesue, the Theoretical Quantum Physics Research Group, whose group leader is Dr William J. Munro, the Quantum Optical Physics Research Group, orchestrated by Dr. Katsuya Oguri, and finally, the Photonic Nano-Structure Research Group, headed by Dr. Akihiko Shinya.

President and CEO Jun Sawada, has been in charge of all operations since 2018, but more importantly — at least where QC is concerned — is Kazuhiro Gomi, president of the company’s research arm. Only last year, NTT ‘set annual salaries of as much as $1 million (¥108.45 million) for researchers at its labs in Palo Alto, California.’

This just goes to show how serious the company is on beating its competitors in the space to the best technical minds on the planet.

So there you go, ten representatives of startups, mid-level companies and multinationals on the quantum road to discovery. This list, however, is not the end of it: there a quite a few I have not mentioned simply because a list of ten can count no more.

Others, both public and private, are dedicating their time, financial resources and reputations on creating a better world for us with the magic of quantum information science.

Here are a few more to consider:

Mitsubishi Electric (public)

QuNu Labs (private)

SpeQtral (private)

Qasky (private)

Horizon Quantum Computing (private)

Huawei (private, surprisingly!)

MDR (private)

M-Labs (private)

Origin Quantum Computing (private)

Q-CTRL (private)

Quantika (private)

Quantum Computing & AI Research (QCAR) (private)

QunaSys (private)

Sigma-I (private)

Tokyo Quantum Computing (private)