Canada in the Quantum Computing Race: Going from Strength to Strength

“I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum (mechanics).”

When Richard P. Feynman, quantum computing pioneer, spoke these immortal words, he probably didn’t imagine that he would be proved wrong a few decades later. Now, our understanding of quantum technology has not only deepened, it has also become the underpinning of a quantum ‘arms race’.

By 2024, the global market for quantum technologies is estimated to hit $10.7 billion. This explains why nations and corporates alike are all jockeying for first position in the fight (or ‘race’) for quantum computing supremacy. On the one hand, we have the Googles and the IBMs rushing to develop powerful quantum machines for the real world. On the other, many nations too are investing time and money to establish ‘quantum hegemony’. The United States is one; China is another. But over the past few years, a few other countries have also made remarkable progress in developing quantum technologies that can create unparalleled computing capabilities in the near future.

One such country is Canada, Quantropi’s home country. Born and rooted in the Canadian ethos for hard work and independent thinking, Quantropi is justifiably proud of the many strides Canada has already made in the area of quantum computing. In 2019, McKinsey ranked Canada  #1 in quantum computing science. Here’s why!

Leading the way with research (and moolah)

The Canadian government has invested heavily – US$1 billion in the last decade alone – to create a robust quantum research infrastructure. The private investment scene is also booming, with VC funds like Quantum Valley Investments providing commercialization funding, expertise and support for quantum researchers. These are critical developments. Moreover, Canada, with places like the University of Waterloo’s ‘Quantum Valley’, already has decades more experience in building and commercializing quantum technology. The Perimeter Institute in the Quantum Valley is providing the intellectually stimulating environment needed to tackle the most pressing quantum computing challenges and to bring a ‘qubit-driven’ future closer to the present. The great Stephen Hawking once said that he was expecting “great things” to come out of the Perimeter Institute, a statement that could be construed as a general testament to Canada’s quantum brainpower.

Another Canadian wonder, the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo is credited with having “fired the starting gun”, years before the United States, China and other countries even started thinking about dedicating significant resources to quantum research.

Canadian thought leadership

Canada is also at the forefront of quantum computing thought leadership, thanks to experts like (the late) Peter Wittek, a well-known quantum researcher, University of Toronto Professor and former Academic Director of the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL). Shortly before he went missing in the Himalayas in October 2019, Wittek had co-authored and submitted the article A non-review of Quantum Machine Learning: trends and explorations to the journal Quantum Views. Like everything else in his solid body of quantum research, this article too offers some very keen insights into this area.

Other researchers at the University of Calgary are augmenting their quantum computing work with machine learning. Barry Sanders, Director of the University’s Institute for Quantum Science and Technology calls this kind of ‘reinforcement learning’ a “very Canadian idea” – just one of many that have grown from Canadian quantum-enthusiastic minds. 

Canada is poised for quantum greatness

Unlike some countries, Canada doesn’t make a lot of noise about its quantum computing progress. And this is not a bad thing because this is a country of doers, not talkers. Canada already has a host of quantum achievements to its credit, as well as a highly dynamic ecosystem of private and government players and a rich and ever-deepening academic knowledgebase. The race to quantum computing supremacy is on. And Canada (and Quantropi!) is off like a shot!

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