Quantum technologies are considered to be the technologies of the future by many experts due to their unprecedented computing power, enhanced communication, and revolutionary breakthroughs. In recent years, quantum technologies have gained significant attention, leading to substantial investments from various sectors and regions.
This article discusses where quantum technology is receiving the most investment, the specific areas attracting funding, and the key players behind these financial commitments.
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The Global Quantum Landscape
Quantum technology includes a range of applications, from quantum computing and communication to sensing and cryptography. Hence, investment in this field is diverse, with various regions and industries competing to establish dominance in different aspects of quantum technology.
For instance, the competition for quantum supremacy in computing has led to substantial investments by both private and public entities in North America, particularly the United States and Canada. Similarly, the Chinese government's commitment to quantum communication is evident in its launch of the world's first quantum satellite, Micius, in 2016.
Quantum technology's applications extend beyond computing and communication to areas like sensing. The United States has a significant role in defense and aerospace companies investing in quantum sensors for navigation, imaging, and surveillance purposes.
Investors play pivotal roles in shaping the quantum landscape by actively contributing to the global research and development of quantum technologies. For instance, A&E Investments, based in San Francisco, operates as a boutique investment firm led by Managing Director Andrew Tan and Chairman Lip-Bu Tan.
A&E Investments is considered one of the first to invest in early-stage quantum startups, with notable contributions, including participation in the £179M Series C funding round for PsiQuantum and a Series B round that raised $55M for IonQ in 2019. Similarly, European stakeholder Amadeus Capital Partners, with a Quantum portfolio comprising NuQuantum and Riverlane, invested £650,000 in NuQuantum's Pre-seed round and participated in a £3.3M Seed round for Riverlane in 2019.
SGInnovate is a Singapore government-owned startup incubator/VC founded in 2016 focusing on global deep tech innovations. This firm invested in Horizon Quantum Computing's Seed round in 2018 and participated in a $1.9M Seed round for SpeQtral in 2019. Another New York-based important stakeholder in quantum technology investments is Bloomberg Beta, which manages $225M with investments in quantum-related startups, including Solid State AI, Rigetti Computing, Beit.Tech and Agnostiq.
Recent Progress in Quantum Investments
Progress Until 2019
A 2019 news article titled "Quantum Gold Rush" focused on the surge in private investments in quantum technologies. The article reveals that private investors funded at least 52 quantum technology companies globally between 2012 and the start of 2019, with a significant increase in funding from 2017 to 2018. Major players like IBM, Google, Alibaba, and others are actively involved in quantum research.
Despite the science being in its early stages, investors are eager to support potential game-changers, such as multipurpose quantum computers, with concerns about the possibility of a speculative bubble in the future. Various firms are receiving funding for developing physical qubits, quantum software, and quantum communication, sensing, and imaging technologies.
Report Highlighting Progress in 2022 and 2023
A recent report by McKinsey highlights the growth of quantum investments, with $2.35 billion injected into quantum technology startups in 2022, surpassing the previous year's record. Despite a modest 1% increase in overall investment, the number of new quantum technology startups decreased from 41 in 2021 to 19 in 2022, indicating a shift towards established companies.
Regionally, the United States, the European Union, and Canada committed significant funds, but China retained its dominance with a total investment of $15.3 billion. The report also highlights a decline in quantum technology research, but despite this decline, breakthroughs like Nobel Prize-winning work and the development of advanced processors highlight the progress in quantum technologies.
A Recent Look
In a recent study focusing on investing in quantum technology in the European Union (EU), researchers examined the challenges and opportunities for commercializing quantum computing. The study emphasizes the need for extensive investments in postdoctoral-level workforce and infrastructure.
It reviews the EU's recent efforts to nurture the quantum-computing ecosystem and proposes concrete actions for future growth, particularly advocating for the creation of EU-based quantum-computing unicorns. These unicorns are seen as crucial for the industry's success, acting as key crystallization points for quantum technology and commercialization.
The study suggests methodologies to enhance the probability of unicorn creation, emphasizing the importance of patents, funding, and support from both the public and private sectors. Additionally, the paper highlights the EU's current lag in quantum-related patents and urges policymakers to prioritize quantum computing in legislative agendas for sustained growth and competitiveness.
In conclusion, the global landscape of quantum technology is evolving rapidly with substantial investments from diverse regions and industries. Regions like North America and China are leading investors in quantum technologies, especially in quantum computing and communication. Key investors, like A&E Investments and Amadeus Capital Partners, have contributed significantly to quantum startups. However, the EU-focused study urges comprehensive investments in quantum computing to foster unicorns and address the region's patent lag.
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References and Further Reading
Räsänen, M., Mäkynen, H., Möttönen, M., & Goetz, J. (2021). Path to European quantum unicorns. EPJ Quantum Technology. https://doi.org/10.1140/epjqt/s40507-021-00095-x
Gibney, E. (2019). The quantum gold rush. Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-019-02935-4
Karen Kwon (2020, June 25) China Reaches New Milestone in Space-Based Quantum Communications. Retrieved on January 23, 2024 from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/china-reaches-new-milestone-in-space-based-quantum-communications/
James Dargan (2022, June 8) 21 Of The World's Top Quantum Investors In 2022. The Quantum Insider. Retrieved on January 23, 2024 from https://thequantuminsider.com/2022/06/08/quantum-investors/
The Quantum Insider (February 2023) Quantum Technology Investment Update Review 2022. https://thequantuminsider.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Quantum-Technology-Investor-Update_vFF.pdf
McKinsey & Company (2023, April 24) Quantum technology sees record investments, progress on talent gap. McKinsey Digital. Retrieved on January 23, 2024 from https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/quantum-technology-sees-record-investments-progress-on-talent-gap
Ryan Morrison (2023, April 25) Investment in quantum technology hit a record $2.35bn last year. Techmonitor. Retrieved on January 23, 2024 from https://techmonitor.ai/hardware/quantum/quantum-investment-2022
Susan Galer (2023, November 6) Who Is Investing In The $850 Billion Quantum Tech Market And Why. Forbes. Retrieved on January 23, 2024 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2023/11/06/who-is-investing-in-the-850b-quantum-tech-market-and-why/