PsiQuantum is not a household name in quantum computing but it soon will be. In their most recent funding round the company raised $150m and have raised $230m overall. No startup quantum computing company has ever raised this much venture capital cash previously. To put the significance of this valuation into perspective, the last hot up and comer in the quantum computing start-up space, Rigetti Computing, only raised $191m. Their last fundraising effort was also a down round lowering the overall valuation for the company. With an abundance of cash and a rich patent portfolio PsiQuantum, a company most people have never heard of has catapulted itself onto the quantum computing stage.
PsiQuantum is taking a fundamentally different approach to building a practical quantum computer and they have the patents to prove it. Shockingly, a look at their patent portfolio shows they are publishing new inventions at a pace that outshines established industry players like Rigetti and D-Wave and are keeping pace with giants like Microsoft and Google.
The surge in patenting activity is coming from a company that has only been in business for five years and didn’t have any innovations publish until 2018. As seen in the graph above, in 2019 PsiQuantum had more patent inventions publish than both D-Wave and Rigetti. Both established leaders in the quantum computing field. Finishing up 2020, they are projected to widen the gap between themselves and Rigetti and keep pace with D-Wave.
So far for 2020, PsiQuantum has 15 innovations published. Their patenting output compares well to the likes of Microsoft, who has 21 publications and Google, who has 25. Google and Microsoft have made considerable investments in the quantum computing field, but a much smaller competitor is challenging them. Microsoft must like what they see since their M12 Ventures group was one of the investors in the recent PsiQuantum round. Microsoft is trying to build a quantum computer using topological qubits while PsiQuantum is using photon-based qubits, a fundamentally different method. Microsoft clearly sees the advantage of having coverage on more than one approach to building a commercial computing device.
What makes PsiQuantum different?
PsiQuantum was claiming to be in “stealth” mode, but now that the patents have published a great deal of information about the specifics of their approach is available. They make the following claim on their website, “Rather than take a quantum system and try to make it scalable, we have taken a scalable process — silicon manufacturing — and made it quantum.”
This difference in approach can be seen clearly in their patent portfolio. PsiQuantum’s inventions are heavily focused on the construction of superconductor circuits and means of photonic quantum communication utilizing light and wave guides, quantum effect devices and quantum optics. Their approach is so different that only 25% of their inventions are even classified by the patent examiners that looked at them as quantum computing devices.
A list of 32 inventions published from the company is available on the European Patent Office’s Esp@cenet site by clicking on the link below:
The future looks bright but there is still a ways to go
Realistically, the company and its investors recognize that the company is still years away from producing a commercial device that is useful for everyday applications. However, there is a great deal of enthusiasm for their method of generating millions of qubits that are inherently less-error prone, can be created at a higher temperature and can be networked to achieve scalable error correction.
No one heard of PsiQuantum three years ago, but with the amount of capital they’ve brought in and with the stockpile of patents they’ve generated the company is poised to make a significant impact on the field of the quantum computing field. They are also a likely acquisition target, especially by the likes of an established semiconductor manufacturing company like Intel.