Partnership Eyes Asia Quantum-Computing Market

Detail photo of H1 trapped-ion system

Quantinuum’s Model H1–1 trapped-ion quantum computer. [Image: Quantinuum]

On 18 October 2022, the US/UK-based integrated quantum-computing hardware/software company Quantinuum and the large Japan-based global trading company Mitsui & Co. announced a strategic partnership to “develop the quantum-computing market in Japan and Asia–Pacific.”

Under the arrangement, the firms would collaborate on developing use cases and markets in a variety of areas, and on the “introduction of Quantinuum’s quantum-computing solutions to the Japanese and Asia-Pacific markets.” The partnership is expected to focus particularly on applications in chemistry, cybersecurity, process optimization and AI, according to a press release accompanying the announcement.

Quantum tech meets market development

The newly announced partnership aims to pair up Quantinuum’s technology expertise with Mitsui’s considerable investment and market-development heft. Formed in late 2021 by the merger of the US quantum-hardware maker Honeywell Quantum Solutions and the UK platform-agnostic quantum software developer Cambridge Quantum (CQ), Quantinuum bills itself as “one of the world’s largest integrated quantum-computing companies.” It currently employs 480 persons in locations in the US, Europe and Japan.

The newly announced partnership aims to pair up Quantinuum’s technology expertise with Mitsui’s considerable investment and market-development heft.

Quantinuum’s services are built around the Honeywell H1 trapped-ion quantum-computing platform, coupled with CQ’s software effort, which combines an open-source software development kit, TKET, with custom software efforts for specific market segments. In September, the company claimed to have achieved a record “quantum volume” of 8,192 on the H1 platform. (Quantum volume is a general measure of the capabilities of a quantum computer that accounts for both the number of quantum bits, or qubits, and the system’s error rates.)

For its part, Mitsui & Co. is a global trading and investment company with some 5,500 employees, and with operations spanning 63 countries worldwide. Its business portfolio includes participation in mining, energy, machinery, infrastructure and chemicals, as well more recent forays into areas such as renewable energy, health care and digitization. It views itself as particularly well positioned in core Asian markets, where it says its long-term business, client access and connections give it “a strong differentiating edge.”

Expanding quantum in Japan and East Asia

In a press release accompanying the announcement of the partnership agreement, the two firms said that the arrangement would involve “joint development of use cases and business models” for quantum computing in application areas such as pharmaceuticals, materials, energy, mobility and logistics. The arrangement will also focus on knowledge dissemination about quantum computing and, specifically, on advancing Quantinuum’s hardware/software solutions further in Japan and the Asia–Pacific region.

Yoshio Kometani, Mitsui & Co.’s chief digital information officer, highlighted in the same release the partnership’s potential to “provide new value to our customers and create new business value in a wide range of industrial fields.” And Quantinuum founder and CEO Ilyas Khan added that the alliance illustrates the two firms’ “shared commitment to accelerating quantum computing across all applications and use cases in a diverse range of sectors, including chemistry, finance and cybersecurity.”

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