Alphabet has just separated its quantum technology group and launched it as an independent company – TechCrunch

Quantum technology may finally have its moment.

Keep in mind that earlier this month, one of the few “pure play” quantum technology companies in the world, Rigetti Computing, was listed by merging with a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC. It only narrowly missed becoming the first listed company to explicitly focus on the commercialization of quantum technology when another outfit, IonQ, was listed through a SPAC merger in October. Meanwhile, another rival in space, D-Wave, says it is also now planning to go public via SPAC.

While movement towards public markets is an indicator that quantum technology is evolving beyond the theoretical realm, an even stronger signal is that it is getting ready for its close ties to the Alphabet, which this morning said it spin out of his six years. -old quantum technology group, Sandbox AQ, for an independent company.

Jack Hidary, former director of AI and quantum at Sandbox and a longtime X Prize board member, will continue to lead the 55-person clothing line, Mountain View, California, which describes itself as a SaaS company that develops commercial products for telecommunications, financial services, healthcare, public authorities, computer security and other sectors.

Sandbox has also put together an enviable cast of advisors, including former Alphabet Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt; Blythe Masters, the former JPMorgan Chase director who helped create credit default swaps; and John Seely Brown, the former chief researcher at Xerox PARC.

It is also noteworthy that Sandbox is rolling out an undisclosed amount of “nine-digit” funding. Among its new external investors is Breyer Capital, whose founder, Jim Breyer, has also joined Sandbox’s advisory board. Section 32, Guggenheim investments, TIME investments and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates are also in the investor mix.

The market demand certainly partly explains Alphabet’s decision to separate Sandbox. According to Gartner, 20% of global organizations are expected to budget for quantum computer projects next year, up from less than 1% in 2018.

Among the customers already paying Sandbox for its computing power are Vodafone Business, SoftBank Mobile and Mount Sinai Health System.

But judging from a recent chat with Breyer, perhaps an even greater driving force behind the growing interest in quantum technology is the realization that even though it is true, fault-tolerant quantum computers – meaning the ability to exploit quantum physics to glide through numerous possibilities and Determining a probable outcome – could be five or more years away, other related technology, such as so-called quantum-sensing technologies – is fast becoming a reality.

In fact, instead of working on quantum computers, Sandbox is focused on how quantum technology crosses AI, and develops applications to strengthen cybersecurity platforms, among other things. In the company’s own words, “[T]here are many aspects of quantum physics and technology that can be commercialized in the short term without the need for quantum computers… using today’s high-performance computers. ” The resulting “quantum simulations can address the real world of business and scientific challenges across a wide range of industries, from financial services and healthcare to aerospace and manufacturing to communications and materials science.”

The statements reflect comments from Breyer when we spoke a few weeks ago when he told us that there are “huge national security opportunities for quantum companies … But what I’m really excited about today from an investment point of view is not necessarily great. super capital-intensive quantum computers… but areas such as quantum perception. ”

Think of a very powerful 1,000x light microscope that can be used for medicine, Breyer had offered as an explanation. “There are quantum registration technologies today that are being tested in some of our major hospitals in the United States that I believe will revolutionize areas such as cardiology. [and] drug discovery. “

In fact, Breyer suggested, while quantum computer platforms will ultimately play a role in helping to catch diseases faster, improve security systems and protect all kinds of data – they can also be used to attack some of these systems, which is partly why , that larger organizations, including governments and companies, are no longer waiting for the massive quantum computers to come – or at least should not be. “We have to get our arms around it,” he had said.

“There are quantum technologies now where – they are not at the breaking point of where quantum computers will be in four or five years – but are making a very big difference,” he said. The team at Sandbox, he suggested at the time, are among those leading the charge.

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