Technologies new blogTechnologies new blog

Now companies are working to simplify the process of developing quantum software applications so programmers don’t actually need to understand the underlying quantum mechanics. One of the early-stage startups making such an effort is Singapore-based Horizon Quantum Computing, whose tools can automatically construct quantum algorithms based on programs written in classical languages. The company recently picked up $18.1 million in a Series A round from Tencent along with other investors, boosting its equity financing to around $21.3 million. Other investors in the Series A round included Sequoia Capital India, SGInnovate, Pappas Capital and Expeditions Fund. The money raised will be used for product development and its expansion in Europe, where the company is planning to open an office in Dublin, Ireland. The startup is also scheduled to launch the early access program of its developer tools later this year. While Singapore is more widely known as a financial hub, it has also been one of the most proactive governments in supporting quantum technologies. The Center for Quantum Technologies, where Horizon Quantum Computing’s founder and CEO Joe Fitzsimons used to be a professor, was set up under the city-state’s Research Centres of Excellence program to advance research in the cutting-edge field. “When I made the jump from academia, Singapore already had the right talent [for quantum computing] and there was access to capital,” said Fitzsimons, who earned a PhD from University of Oxford.

Neutral ground

As a country that has historically been rather politically neutral, Singapore is also less prone to trade or technological sanctions, the founder reckoned. This is important in a world where businesses are increasingly caught in the tech war between the U.S. and China/ Launching from a neutral home base is now seen as a prerequisite to many tech firms, including quantum computer builders that rely on components sourced from around the world. Tencent’s investment in Horizon Quantum Computing is purely financial so it won’t entail any transfer of sensitive data, the founder noted. The startup took Tencent’s investment because the giant is an “expert” in the area, he said. Indeed, the social networking and gaming giant has shown a keen interest in the field by opening its quantum research lab in 2018. Ling Ge, Tencent’s chief representative in Europe and the main person who oversaw the deal in Horizon Quantum Computing, has known Fitzsimons since her years in Oxford where she studied quantum computing. “At Tencent, we take a long-term perspective on quantum. In our own quantum lab, we are focused on fundamental research, first principles simulations and quantum algorithms, and how these might serve enterprise customers,” said Ge at an industry event last year. “In terms of investments, we take a science-driven approach. One of the challenges in investing in quantum is what we call the ‘black box’ paradox. The challenge of evaluating early-stage deep tech companies in areas like quantum, nuclear fusion or biotech is difficult because the core technology is in its early proof-of-concept phase. It is hard to evaluate and understand at what stage of maturity it really is. “Therefore, we take appropriate steps to mitigate the risks of this black box paradox depending on the investment stage. This is primarily achieved through our deep technical expertise, which allows us to really understand what is being developed and its maturity,” she said. Tencent backs Singapore’s Horizon Quantum Computing in $18M round by Rita Liao originally published on TechCrunch


Press ESC to close