Quantum South: Uruguay’s First QC Startup

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The lush pampas of the Southern Cone are more than just cattle and gauchos. Quantum has arrived. Enjoy

Photo by Guilherme Roveda Hellwinkel on Unsplash

Risk Aversion

My interest in South America, by that its history, culture and business landscape, has lasted more than two decades. Whenever I hear a startup — particularly in the field of quantum computing (QC)/tech is founded — I’m more than keen to write about it.

So far though, as of June 2020, the landscape in Latin America regarding startups in the industry is sparse — not because the continent lacks intelligence and ingenuity. Far from it. From Ushuaia to Caracas, Rio to Santiago, innovation abounds.

Like Europe, North America and Asia, there’s no lack of clever people willing to innovate. One reason for the dearth of activity in the space, however — according to a Colombian colleague of mine who just happens to be a serial entrepreneur currently engaged in QC — could be that Latin Americans tend to follow what’s popular, what the current trend is. That’s why AI is so popular there at the moment. It’s a Lemming mentality. Risk aversion, too, plays a huge part in the inactivity — QC is still an unknown quantity for many.

But that’s not to say nothing is going on.

Latin Americans tend to follow what’s popular, what the current trend is.[…]’

— C.S., Colombian entrepreuner

University initiatives on the continent are ongoing. In Brazil, the Quantum Computing Group at the National Laboratory for Scientific Computing, based in Petrópolis, is the heartbeat of all things QC.

Other countries, too, have their university research groups — Mexico, Chile and Argentina being the most advanced. Seeing as they are the richest nations on the continent (though Mexico is geographically in Central America) this is of no surprise, really.

When it comes to private enterprises, only the Bogotá-based Spin Quantum Tech — the first South American QC startup (that I’ve heard of) focussed on algorithms, AI and molecule simulation — is making any QC noise.

Or it was like that until last week when I came across Quantum South, a Uruguayan QC startup still in stealth mode.

Quantum Computing Heads South

TQD can’t say much about what they are up to nor what their plans are at the moment as information on Quantum South is rather non-existent.

The startup has a website, though it is very basic. To find out more, I sherlocked my way to the startup’s LinkedIn page and came across its two founders, Rafael Sotelo and Laura Gatti.

Developing solutions in the quantum computing era

— Quantum South

Founded in the autumn of 2019, Quantum South is based in Montevideo, the nation’s capital.

In a country more famous for football, the world’s ‘poorest president’ Jose Mujica, beef, and the drink, Maté, Uruguay — with a tiny population of some three and a half million — was a surprise to me.

 

Rafael Sotelo is a researcher, consultant and educator with a Ph.D. in telematics engineering from the University of Vigo, Spain. He is also director of the ICT department at the Universidad de Montevideo, a position he has held for nearly two decades.

His co-founder at Quantum South, Laura Gatti, is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in quantum computing at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

TQD waits with bated breath as to what approach Quantum South takes in QC. Whether the startup goes into the hardware or software game will depend on their expertise. Yet whatever the outcome, the imagination, artistry and work ethic of the southern hemisphere will be crucial.