The government of Canada today announced it is making a $40-million contribution to quantum heavyweight D-Wave Systems Inc. as part of a larger $120 million investment in quantum computing technologies. The government sees such technologies as critical for boosting economic growth and job creation, and for providing a technical and strategic edge in the global marketplace.
D-Wave will apply the funds toward the development of its next-generation system with a more powerful quantum processor that furthers the advantage of the quantum approach over classical computers. The funds will also help the Burnaby, British Columbia-based company boost access to its cloud-based service. Cloud-based access to is seen as particularly helpful to small and medium-sized Canadian companies that would not be in a position to purchase their own hardware.
Founded in 1999, D-Wave Systems was early to the quantum computing stage with its adiabatic annealing approach, which solves specific classes of optimization problems. The company sold its first quantum system, based on a 128-qubit chipset, to Lockheed Martin in 2011. In 2018, D-Wave began offering access to its quantum hardware and software tools in the cloud, with the launch of its Leap cloud service. Today Leap provides real-time access to the D-Wave 2000Q system, as well as D-Wave’s 5000-qubit system, Advantage, launched in September 2020. The Advantage quantum system touts more than 5,000 qubits and 15-way qubit connectivity, as well as an expanded hybrid solver service that can run problems with up to one million variables, according to D-Wave.
As part of the funding project announced today, D-Wave agrees to invest more than $480 million in R&D, create and maintain 200 jobs, and employ up to 10 co-op students annually. The project also fosters collaboration across Canada’s quantum computing ecosystem to help it grow and thrive.
The bulk of the funding is being made through Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), which supports high-quality business investments across Canada.
“D-Wave is proud that its technologies are among those that the Strategic Innovation Fund has invested in,” said Alan Baratz, CEO, D-Wave Systems Inc. “Through support from the Government of Canada, D-Wave will continue to build a global quantum ecosystem showcasing the power of Canadian innovation.
“We are focused on bringing early quantum hybrid value to diverse fields, including health care, materials science, financial analysis, manufacturing and logistics, and will continue to focus on the prototyping, development, full-scale implementation and deployment of quantum computing systems and services on new innovative architectures and designs.”
D-Wave is privately held and venture funded. Baratz assumed the role of CEO in January 2020, replacing longtime D-Wave CEO Vern Brownell.
In recent years, D-Wave has faced increased competition from major tech companies like IBM, Google, Microsoft and Intel, but also a swelling number of quantum startups.
Last month, D-Wave scientists published a study in Nature in collaboration with scientists at Google, demonstrating a 3 million times speed-up for a simulation run on D-Wave’s special purpose processor (the 2000Q) compared with classical computing hardware. D-Wave reported the work was achieved on a practical application: simulating the topological phenomena behind the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics.