JPMorgan latest to pile into quantum upstart with $5B valuation

Banking giant believes Quantinuum key to optimizing investment portfolios

The wave of generative AI may have captured the world's attention, but that hasn't stopped the flow of capital into quantum computing as JPMorgan Chase and others plow more cash into the emerging tech.

The banking giant, along with Mitsui & Co. and Amgen injected $300 million into Honeywell-backed quantum computing startup Quantinuum to accelerate development of a "universal fault-tolerant quantum computer" and the requisite software to commercialize such a machine.

Launched in late 2021, Quantinuum has already raised $625 million, and with this latest cash infusion, the company's valuation now tops $5 billion.

The upstart is the result of a merger between Cambridge Quantum and Honeywell Quantum Solutions. Since then Quantinuum has gone on to develop the H-series of trapped-ion quantum computers.

This particular breed of quantum systems utilizes electromagnetic fields to suspend charged particles in free space. Qubits — the base unit of compute for these quantum systems — are then stored in the electronic state of each ion while operations are performed using lasers.

Quantinuum's H1 system can wrangle up to 20 trapped ion qubits. While that might not sound like a lot next to competing systems like IBM's 433 qubit Osprey system, more doesn't always translate into higher performance or greater capability. We're told factors like decoherence and the quality of the qubits themselves often plays a bigger role than quantity.

JPMorgan Chase was an early customer of Quantinuum and its predecessors quantum systems, including its H-series systems, going back to 2020.

"Financial services has been identified as one of the first industries that will benefit from quantum technologies," said Lori Beer, global CIO for JPMorgan Chase, in a statement.  "As such, we have been investing in quantum research and our team of experts – led by Dr. Marco Pistoia – have made groundbreaking discoveries, partnering with quantum computing leaders like Quantinuum."

As we've seen in the fintech arena with things like FPGAs, only a narrow advantage over conventional systems is required to generate profits and therefore justify the investment.

JPMorgan, for its part, is already investigating ways to do just that. In a paper published by the financial institution last summer, researchers explored the application of future fault tolerant quantum systems on optimization problems.

The idea here was to use quantum systems to optimize investment portfolios while also accounting for the litany of regulatory constraints. These exercises were then applied as part of a proof of concept on Quantinuum's H-series accelerators, though it appears fault tolerant — that is to say error correcting — quantum systems will be required to fully realize an advantage.

JPMorgan Chase is not the only major company investing in quantum computing. Toyota, Hyundai, BBVA, BSAF, and ExxonMobil represent just a handful of enterprises which have thrown their weight behind quantum startups to help develop new materials, optimize routes, or reduce investment risk.

Meanwhile, over the past year or so, quantum has enjoyed growing interest among government and research institutions. Quantinuum recently announced Japan's Riken would deploy an H1 system alongside a superconducting quantum system developed by Fujitsu at a research center in Wako.

In the US, the government is pouring significant funding into the technology with a push to do more. Early last year the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched the Underexplored Systems for Utility-Scale Quantum Computing (US2QC) to accelerate development of quantum systems. The idea being that if a quantum system has world altering implications —running a zipper down existing cryptographic algorithms for example — Uncle Sam would really like to do it first.

More recently, the US House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology put forward a bill that, if passed, would direct roughly $3 billion of dollars into quantum research and development over the next four years. ®

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