Nobody needs a Ph.D. in quantum physics to realize the battle of the quantum superpowers is between the US and China.
At present, China is taking the lead when it comes to recruiting the right talent in the sector by its aggressive attitude toward hiring some of America’s most talented quantum physicists and other experts. A United States Senate report from 2019, Threats to the U.S. Research Enterprise: China’s Talent Recruitment Plans, details in black and white the dangers of China’s attitude to this. And though the Chinese have the right as any nation to boost its quantum competitiveness, the White House’s complacency here could see it left far behind if it fails to act.
In the commercial scene, too, we can see a changing landscape: according to data in The Quantum Insider (TQI), there are over fifty US quantum computing startups and big players currently active.
China, though far behind this number numerically speaking at the moment, its representation is fair by the standards of most countries.
TQD will now take a look, in alphabetical order, at the main players on the Chinese market. Some of them are pure startups with minimum cash reserves; others tied to the government in some way or subsidiaries of bigger multinationals.
Baidu Research — the research wing of Baidu, Inc., a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in Internet-related services and products and artificial intelligence headquartered in Beijing’s Haidian District — aims to become a world-class Quantum Artificial Intelligence (QAI) research centre by integrating quantum technologies into Baidu’s core business through IPs, standards, patents, top acquisition, and research projects in quantum AI, quantum algorithms and quantum architecture.
Founded in 2016 in the Hefei National High-tech Industry Development Zone, CIQTEK manufactures state-of-the-art quantum sensors, advanced instruments and equipment for analysis and test, technical solutions for enabling industry applications whose customer base includes a global network of private companies, governments and research institutions. CIQTEK’s devices will improve outcomes in quantum computation, biology and medicine, food safety, as well as the disciplines of chemistry and material science.
Earlier this year the startup announced that it had raised over 100 million yuan ($15.45 million) in a Series B round of fundraising, The round was led by GL Ventures.
3. Huawei Cloud
Part Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. a Chinese multinational technology company with headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, Huawei Cloud’s New HiQ Quantum Computing Cloud Platform is enabling Huawei QC research and a future-oriented QC software solution. Providing services for high-performance, large-scale quantum circuit simulation, it is still in beta mode but promises to offer more services in the future.
With headquarters in Hefei, Anhui Province, Origin Quantum (officially HeFei Origin Quantum Computing Technology co., LTD) was established in 2017 as a spinoff from the Key Laboratory of Quantum Information at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and is led by eminent Chinese quantum computing scientists, Guo Guangcan and Guo Guoping. A full-stack quantum computing company, the startup builds quantum software, quantum chips, quantum measurement devices, quantum control systems, and even a quantum cloud service while also developing its novel IP in quantum AI.
In 2020 the team released its superconducting quantum computer to the world. Called Wu Yuan, it has a 6-qubit superconducting quantum processor. The company also has plans for 24-qubit and 64-qubit devices sometime in the future.
In January of this year, the startup raised more than 100 million Yuan — that’s $15 million — in a Series A funding round led by China Internet Investment Fund, a government-affiliated fund, with additional participants in the capital raise of the China Reform Fund and CCB International.
Qasky, or Anhui Qasky Quantum Technology Co. Ltd, was founded in 2016 by scientists Cai Jiren, Guo Guangcan and Han Zhengfu with the support of the joint investment of Wuhu Construction and Investment Ltd. and the University of Science and Technology of China with the registered capital of 50 million RMB ($7,635m). Based in Wuhu City, Anhui Province, Qasky is commercializing the quantum cryptography research carried out at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is designing quantum cryptography communication terminal equipment, network switching/routing equipment, core optoelectronic devices/modules, an opening experiment system, scientific instruments, network security control, and application software to provide integrated solutions to quantum information security systems.
Qasky has also built a provincial quantum security project technology research centre, academician workstation, Hefei research and development centre, and other quantum information R&D platforms, and has a proven track record in this area.
QuantumCTek Co., Ltd is a leader in commercialized quantum information technology (QIT), designing and manufacturing QIT-enabled ICT security products, services and solutions in telecom infrastructure, enterprise networks, cloud computing, and Big Data technology. QuantumCTek’s products have been adopted by government, financial and energy sector players. Based in Hefei, Anhui Province and founded in 2009, it is impressively the first quantum technology company to go public in China
Guokaike Quantum Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd., more commonly known as Qike Quantum, with the registered trademark QuDoor, designs quantum communication devices and the full-stack development of quantum computers for a customer base that lies in the fields of military, government, finance, telecommunications, and power. Founded in 2016, QuDoor’s cofounder and R&D team have been involved in the development and completion of several quantum information technology feats such as the first commercial quantum communication system (2003), the first dedicated waveform generator for quantum computing (2007), the first to achieve ion trapping on the ion trap chip (2012), the first quantum computing measurement and control system (2015), as well as China’s first trapping system with ion-phonon-photon compound entanglement function (2018).
With 32 patents related to quantum information processing technology and a number of non-patent superior technologies, the 50 million yuan ($7.8m) QuDoor raised in an Angel Financing Round earlier this year — made possible by investors Zhongguancun Development Frontier Fund, Zhongguancun Gold Seed Fund and a number of others — will only raise the stakes for the company.
8.Tencent Quantum Lab
Tencent Quantum Lab, part of the bigger Tencent Holdings Ltd., also known as Tencent, is a Chinese multinational technology conglomerate holding company that was founded in 1998. Based in the technology hub that is the city of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, Tencent Quantum Lab intends to become the conduit of fundamental theory with practical applications in the fast-growing sector of quantum information technology. Working closely with top universities, research centres, and commercial enterprises globally, Tencent Quantum Lab wants to design and manufacture novel quantum algorithms, systems, software, and cloud services for areas like AI and quantum chemistry.
Founded way back in 1985, ZTE Corporation is a partially state-owned global leader in telecommunications and information technology and is listed on both the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges.
In 2016 ZTE launched the industry’s first quantum encryption transport solution based on an optical transport network (OTN).
With the likes of Kunfeng Quantum Technology and SpinQ based on the Chinese mainland, not to mention the Hong Kong-based M-Labs joining the nine featured, it should be no time at all before we see a flood of startups — both spinoffs from academic institutes and solely private affairs — jumping on board the quantum rollercoaster.
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The Quantum Insider (TQI)
Just in case this list hasn’t satisfied your cravings for data in the Chinese QC industry, you can sign up for The Quantum Insider (TQI) to find out even more.
TQI is an invaluable resource for journalists, researchers, investors, companies, and government agencies looking to extend their knowledge of the growing quantum tech ecosystem!