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Seattle: Home of grunge, Starbucks… and now, a quantum computer manufacturing plant

Unclear where IonQ’s funding for its $1 billion investment plans will come from

IonQ plans to open a quantum computer manufacturing plant - the first on US soil it claims - as part of broader plans to invest $1 billion into an expansion in the Pacific Northwest region over the next decade.

The plant will be situated at Bothell, part of the Seattle metropolitan area in Washington state. This facility will house the company's expanding research & development and manufacturing teams, IonQ says, as they develop systems to meet "continued customer demand."

The new location will also house IonQ's second quantum datacenter, following one at its College Park HQ, Maryland, and is expected to become the primary production engineering location for IonQ in North America.

IonQ's quantum technology is based on trapped ions manipulated by laser beams, rather than the semiconductor-based, superconducting qubits adopted by many other companies in the fledgling industry. It was also the first pure-play quantum computing startup to go public in 2021, merging with dMY Technology Group, a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company.

The company has had some notable successes, getting its technology onto both Microsoft's Azure Quantum cloud service and Amazon's Braket quantum computing service, as well as a partnership with Dell that has seen it provide its tech for the Dell Quantum Computing Solution that was announced at the SC22 conference last year.

IonQ also secured a $13.4 million contract last year to supply the US Air Force Research Lab with access to its systems for quantum computing hardware research and for the development of quantum algorithms and applications.

However, it isn't quite clear where IonQ would find the funds to embark on a $1 billion investment plan over the next 10 years. In its financial results for the third quarter of 2022, the company reported revenue of $2.8 million, based on bookings of $16.4 million, although it was holding cash and investments of $555.8 million as of September 30.

We asked IonQ where it intended to raise the funding for its investment plans, and also when its quantum computer manufacturing plant was expected to be up and running, and we will update the article if we get a substantial response.

Perhaps one clue comes from a supporting statement for IonQ from US senator Patty Murray, who said that the opening of the quantum facility will help ensure that Washington state continues to be a leader in innovation and cutting-edge technologies, adding that: "These are the kinds of investments that happen when we pass legislation like the CHIPS and Science Act to invest in American manufacturing and build the economy of the future right here at home."

IonQ president and CEO Peter Chapman said the company chose Seattle for its new 65,000 square foot facility as the region is a hub of tech innovation and manufacturing with the skilled workforce needed to design, build and manufacture its quantum systems.

"As we planned our expansion, the Seattle area was an ideal option for our new facility. We're excited to be among the other innovative companies who call Seattle home, many of which are IonQ partners and customers," he said. ®

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