Battle for supremacy set to intensify with APAC countries joining quantum computing bandwagon, says GlobalData

Investments in quantum computing so far have been primarily led by the US and a few other European countries such as the UK, the Netherlands and France. However, with a host of countries from the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region showing keen interest and pledging significant investments, the quest for quantum computing supremacy is set to gather momentum in the next few years, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Earlier in February 2020, India had allocated a humongous US$1.12bn (INR80bn) in its union budget 2020-21 for quantum computing research over the next five years, under the National Mission of Quantum Technology and Application project.  Meanwhile, Japan and Korea too have pledged US$276m and US$39.8m, respectively, for quantum research and related technologies.   

Sunil Kumar Verma, Lead ICT Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “While, these three countries have now begun committing resources and funds to quantum computing, China has been leading quantum computing investments and efforts in the APAC region for quite some time now.”

Indeed, China established a national strategy in 2016, aimed at making the country more self-reliant in the quantum computing space. The government invested US$10bn towards building a quantum research facility in Hefei (expected to open in 2020), to further establish its technology supremacy in global quantum computing and sensing.

The battle for quantum supremacy is also extending to the technology vendors from across the globe. Given the rich dividends quantum computing promises to provide, global tech vendors such as Google (54-qubit Sycamore processor), Microsoft (Azure Quantum), Intel (Horse Ridge) and IBM (Raleigh, 28-qubit quantum computer) have been willing to commit significant resources to build capabilities in this space.

On the other hand, technology vendors in the APAC region too are racing towards making their presence felt in quantum computing, primarily led by vendors from China, such as Alibaba, Huawei and Baidu. These Chinese vendors have been among the early movers in the quantum computing space, having begun undertaking efforts in this space a couple of years ago.

Alibaba, for example, had in late 2017 announced an investment of US$15bn for AI, quantum computing and FinTech, and later launched its quantum computing cloud in 2018, featuring an 11-qubit quantum processor. In 2018, Huawei leveraged its cloud computing capabilities to launch Quantum Computing Simulation HiQ Cloud Service Platform. Baidu launched its quantum computing research center in 2018.

Japanese vendors NEC and Fujitsu too have been undertaking quantum computing efforts. Fujitsu completed the on-premises installation of the Fujitsu Quantum-Inspired Computing Digital Annealer in October 2019. Similarly, in December 2019, Japan’s NEC partnered with D-Wave Systems, to build hybrid HPC and quantum apps, by leveraging the capabilities NEC’s high-performance computers and D-Wave’s quantum systems.

Sunil concludes: “Despite all the breakthroughs, all the leading tech companies and countries are at an elementary stage of understanding and building quantum computers. In parallel, the competition for quantum advantage is all set to be a key differentiating factor, as leading vendors continue to announce breakthrough for various applications. For quantum computing to be successful, research, along with apt funding, will be essential to achieve a breakthrough in the coming years. However, significant breakthroughs for various applications in the real-world scenario are probably still a few years away.”

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