Quantum Network Hub Opens in Japan

By Tiffany Trader

May 17, 2018

Following on the launch of IBM’s commercial quantum network last December with 12 industrial and academic partners, the official Japanese hub at Keio University is now open to facilitate the exploration of quantum applications important to science and business. The news comes a week after IBM announced that North Carolina State University was the first U.S. university to join its Q network.

Asia’s first Q hub has attracted four big industry clients. The organizations — JSR, MUFG Bank, Mizuho Financial Group, and Mitsubishi Chemical — gain access to the 20 qubit IBM Q system, located at IBM’s research center in upstate New York, and will get to be early users of the prototype 50 qubit processor slated for the next generation IBM Q systems.

Q network researchers will specifically be looking to identify and develop practical quantum applications in fields such as financial services, automotive and chemistry. Early work will involve scaled-down problems, but the end goal is developing codes that perform better or faster on a quantum machine than a classical one. IBM says it will be assisting Q network partners with technical expertise on new quantum technology and industrial applications.

The new IBM Q hub at the university’s Yagami campus in Kanagawa Prefecture joins a growing Q network that includes a collaboration of Fortune 500 companies, a number of startups, academic institutions and national research labs. Keio is one of six Q network hubs; the others are IBM Research, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Oxford, the University of Melbourne, and North Carolina State University.

It’s undeniable that quantum computing is in the midst of a quickening, but experts acknowledge that hardware progress is outpacing algorithms and software development. In pursuit of quantum (and market) readiness, IBM is crowd-sourcing R&D by making its quantum processing systems available to partners with the intent to build up that critical ecosystem. From the tech giant’s view, practical quantum applications are a precursor to commercial viability, and ultimately commercial viability will be needed to usher in a sustainable quantum age where previously intractable problems can be solved.

Keio’s Faculty of Science and Technology will serve as the location of the IBM Q hub with the newly installed Quantum Computing Center providing a focus for the research.

Partner quotes

“The combination of IBM Q’s quantum hardware, software, and scientific expertise with Keio University’s 20 years of quantum computing research is why JSR, MUFG Bank, Mizuho Financial Group, and Mitsubishi Chemical joined our IBM Q Hub. Together, we will explore the ways quantum computing will meet the future needs of their industries,” said Kohei Itoh, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Keio University.

“The next era of computing is quantum — it will be one of the most critical technologies for business and science breakthroughs moving forward,” said Dr. Bob Sutor, vice president, IBM Q Strategy and Ecosystem, IBM Research. “We see the establishment of hubs for research and industry collaboration like at Keio University as essential to the development of early, practical quantum applications and building the growing quantum computing community.”

“JSR’s corporate philosophy is ‘Materials Innovation,’ and we will make every effort to broaden the field of chemistry through quantum computing, exploring the possibilities of new materials development. At the same time, we will also work together with Keio University and IBM to help develop much needed world-class quantum research and technical skills,” said, Mitsunobu Koshiba, Representative Director and President, JSR Corporation.

“Recent progress in quantum computing has been remarkable, and has tremendous potential for applications in a wide range of financial business processes, including asset management and risk calculation. We consider the IBM Q Hub at Keio University a great step toward the practical use of quantum computers and joint IT,” said Hironori Kamezawa, Senior Managing Corporate Executive Group CIO & Group CDTO, MUFG Bank, Ltd.

“The growth of quantum computing promises technological advancements beyond anything our classical computers could ever achieve. Mizuho will collaborate with the IBM Q Hub at Keio University, and their wealth of knowledge and world-leading universal quantum computing technology to research the potential of advanced financial services,” said Junichi Kato, Senior Managing Executive Officer, Mizuho Financial Group, Inc.

“We decided to join the IBM Q Hub at Keio University because we know it is important to be ‘quantum ready,’ now. With the aim of becoming a truly global company, THE KAITEKI COMPANY’s Mitsubishi Chemical will challenge itself to develop new materials that contribute to a sustainable society. We also expect the hub to serve as a starting point in developing the next generation of quantum researchers,” said Masayuki Waga, President & CEO, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation.

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