2023 could be the breakthrough year for quantum computers

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2022 was a dynamic year for quantum computing. With commercial breakthroughs such as the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) investing in its first quantum computer, launching the world’s first quantum computer that has an advantage over the cloud, and the Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded for groundbreaking entangled photon experiments, the industry is advancing.

At the same time, the enormous power of the exaflop barrier was broken in 2022 with the Frontier supercomputer. With a cost of around 600 million US dollars and a power requirement of more than 20 megawatts, we are approaching the limits of what classical computer approaches can achieve on their own. Often for business reasons, many companies are unable to fully utilize the increasing amount of data at their disposal. This hampers digital transformation in areas that rely most heavily on high-performance computing (HPC): healthcare, defense, energy, and finance.

To stay ahead of the curve, 91% of global business leaders are investing or planning to invest in quantum computing. According to reports, 70% are developing real-world use cases and 61% plan to spend $1 million or more over the next three years.

As technology becomes more exciting and the industry gains momentum, the pressure on Quantum to deliver increases. But the voices of the skeptics will also become louder. With those saying that quantum computers will never be useful due to their complexity and limited results so far, will 2023 be a breakthrough year for quantum computers?


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Here you can see technical innovations in comparison to established market participants

In 2022 we saw the formation of many established industry companies that used SPACs, IPOs, mergers or corporate sponsorships to build up sizable war chests to pursue serious tech activity. As these significant scale-up activities continue, 2023 will also be the year of innovation and potential disruption.

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New players will emerge among the big players with alternative approaches to quantum computing: perhaps replacing qubits and gate models with qumodes using model simulations and quantum glow models.

The goal of these newcomers will not only be to achieve universal computing, but rather more specific and useful calculations that can be delivered in less time. The challenge will be whether these new machines can be used for anything useful and whether the industry will take care of them in the near future. The quantum supply chain is also evolving with component-based providers – such as B. quantum processor vendors – that will loosen the way full-stack systems are built and break the economics of current black-box approaches.

Such work will force further discussions on the right and best way to compare and benchmark technologies, performance and the industry.

competition for funding

Despite the turbulence on the international financial markets, quantum computing could continue to buck the trend with large financing rounds. Also, in 2023 there will be an interesting comparison between public and private quantum companies.

Listed companies will continue to deploy their capital, but at the expense of near-term attention from investors and short sellers. As they and the rest of the industry push to meet significant and significant technical milestones, they will only have partial success in shrugging off near-term pressures to validate the business. It is likely that a race to capture the first market share to meet sales projections will ensue.

On the personal front, and with a global recession looming, valuations for large companies are likely to struggle to compete with past expectations. This will be offset to some extent by the increasing appetite for deep tech and new exciting developments. Many will struggle in the recent spate of new quantum companies, and both successful and less successful companies will be taken over as the big players consolidate. In general, 2023 will likely end with fewer quantum companies than 2022.

Both public and private quantum companies will benefit if a few make strides in creating useful cases with short-term quantum computers. In pursuit of pragmatic value creation, this will come in many forms—including quantum sensing and communications, quantum-inspired, and hybrid quantum-classical approaches with small systems.

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A few wins here will be industry-changing, bringing a focus the industry has been waiting for. The consequences will run through the entire market.

Advances toward fault-tolerant machines

Despite advances in short-term applications, error correction will not go away in 2023. On the contrary, the holy grail of quantum computing will remain to build a fault-tolerant machine. 2023 may bring software or hardware breakthroughs that will show we’re closer than we think, but otherwise this will continue to be something to be achieved well beyond 2023.

While it means everything to some quantum companies and investors, future corporate adopters of quantum computing will largely see this as too far off the time horizon to care. The exceptions are governments and anyone else with a significant, long-term interest in crypto.

Despite these long time horizons, 2023 will define clearer blueprints and timelines for building fault-tolerant quantum computers in the future. In fact, there’s also a possibility that next year will be the year when quanta forever eliminate the possibility of short-term applications and double on the 7-10 year journey to large-scale fault-tolerant systems.

Governments, Users and HPC

In 2022, the federal government completed the bidding process for some very large quantum computing projects, with an example of a €67 million contract for two projects. In 2023, this trend will continue with even more public procurement for quantum computers.

These bids, and the fact that they will be run through multiple HPC centers around the world, will force the quantum computing industry to meet stringent bid requirements and associated delivery commitments. As long as these tenders are well conducted, these activities will drive the maturity of the technology and companies in the field.

Alongside this, the complexity of the user community will develop dramatically this year. Expect the launch of several “Industrial Challenges” conducted by teams of in-house quantum experts. This increasing maturity will also act as a positive force within the industry and help to make great strides in the search for concrete applications and roadmaps.

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Geopolitics gets in the way

Geopolitics will continue to shape quanta like the rest of the economy; This configuration could reach a climax with the increasing separation between the US and China. As the race to develop quantum computing continues to gain strategic leadership in cybersecurity, intelligence operations, and the commercial industry, expect increasing constraints to limit technology exchanges and increasing impacts on supply chains. This is partially offset by bilateral and multilateral agreements between nations, although the specter of nationalism will linger.

But how will European and UK companies fare? Fearing being caught in the middle of the China-US tech competition, many are urgently developing quantum tools to protect their interests.

A quantum breakthrough year

So, as we look to the future, the question is no longer if quantum computing will be available, but when? 2023 could be the year that some ask – and now maybe even claim. While others will continue to say, “Of course not.”

As more companies use quantum to realize their potential, we will surely exit 2023 with a greater awareness of the benefits and timeline. This can help companies better understand what their future with quantum might look like.

But as little as we know about the future, one thing is certain: the world will be watching.

Richard Murray is Co-Founder and CEO of ORCA Computing and Chairman and Director of UKQuantum.

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