Quantum Canada

Vern Brownell had spent 11 years at Goldman Sachs (GS) as the New York bank’s chief technology officer. He had grown cynical from startups pitching for a sliver of the billion dollars a year Goldman spends on technology.

D-Wave Systems is a Canadian startup in the nascent field of quantum computing.

“Once I came out here and saw what they were doing, I said ‘I’ve got to do this,’” Brownell said in a recent telephone interview. “I had never seen anything that had the potential to disrupt the computing industry the way this had.”

Four years later, Brownell is D-Wave’s chief executive officer, the firm has secured more than C$100 million ($95 million) in investment from backers including Goldman (GS) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN). founder Jeff Bezos and counts Lockheed Martin Co. (LMT), and a lab run by Google Inc (GOOG). and NASA as its customers.

Along with BlackBerry smartphone inventor Mike Lazaridis, who has poured nearly half a billion dollars into quantum science in Waterloo, Ontario, D-Wave is creating a second act for a Canadian technology sector known more recently for Nortel Networks Corp (NRTLQ).’s bankruptcy and BlackBerry’s struggles.

Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC)

In Waterloo, the Quantum-Nano Centre, a glass building encased in hexagonal steel latticework financed with $100 million from Lazaridis, opened in September. The building, which features labs with specially sprung floors to insulate against ground vibrations, is the new home of the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing.

Lazaridis also bankrolled the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics with a $250 million donation over a decade before. The IQC’s backers include the U.S. Army Research Office, International Business Machines Corp., and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), according to its website.

While quantum cryptography holds the key to new security systems, it’s limited to a range of about 120 kilometers (75 miles) as the photons used to establish the secure connection are absorbed by the optical fibers or the atmosphere beyond that distance, Laflamme says.

The IQC’s 70-kilogram black-and-gold satellite, being developed with space hardware maker Com Dev International Ltd. (CDV) and the Canadian Space Agency, could make quantum communications global by linking the photons through satellites.

Lazaridis’s latest investment came in March: the creation of Quantum Valley Investments (PE00499), a C$100 million fund designed to commercialize the technologies emerging from the Waterloo cluster.

Lazaridis won’t say whether the satellite project has received funding from Quantum Valley Investments or name any other recipients, other than to say a couple have already received money.

SOURCE – Bloomberg

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