Quantum computing as-a-service platform launched in UK

Ilana Wisby Oxford Quantum.jpg

A UK company has started what it calls the country’s first quantum computing as-a-service (QCaaS) platform.

Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC) says the UK’s only quantum computer can now be accessed by enterprise companies such as big banks, major pharma, logistics or materials companies and government bodies, to explore quantum computing’s capabilities.

Ilana Wisby (pictured), the CEO of OQC, said: “We know quantum computing has the power to be revolutionary but for decades this power and potential has been relatively untested and unverified in the real world.”

Wisby, who has a PhD in quantum physics, added: “By making our QCaaS platform more widely available to strategic partners and customers, we are offering the world’s leading enterprises the chance to demonstrate just how far-reaching quantum will be for their companies and their industries.”

OQC has named its system Sophia, after Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the UK’s first women doctors, who from 1869 led a campaign to make the University of Edinburgh, where she studied, recognise her medical qualification.

Shareholders in OGC include the University of Oxford and Oxford Sciences Innovation, a venture capital company which is also part-owner of Vaccitech, co-inventor of the Oxford vaccine against Covid-19.

OQC, which despite the Oxford in its name is based 65km away in Reading, says another UK company, Cambridge Quantum, will be the first to access the platform.

Honeywell last month paid up to US$300 million for a controlling stake in Cambridge Quantum, which is based in the university city of Cambridge.

Wisby, who has run OQC for three years, said: “The launch of our QCaaS platform is not only a remarkable achievement in the history of Oxford Quantum Circuits, but is a significant milestone in unlocking the potential of quantum computing both in the UK and globally.”

Enterprises will be able to access OQC’s QCaaS platform through a private cloud, offering access to OCQ’s quantum hardware design. The company said it has opened a beta list to enterprise customers looking to take advantage of the technical and commercial benefits of quantum computing.

Cambridge Quantum said it will use the QCaaS platform to demonstrate its IronBridge cybersecurity platform, which generates unhackable cryptographic keys.

Ilyas Khan, CEO of Cambridge Quantum, said: “It has long been recognised that the first ‘killer app’ for quantum computers will be in the area of cybersecurity, and we are looking forward to demonstrating that OQC can generate verifiably quantum cryptographic keys for our IronBridge platform.”

OQC said businesses invited to join its beta list will be able to test its systems in streamlining or enhancing their business processes, and model and experiment with new approaches.

Khan added: “This bold launch of a quantum processor by a company that has very much been in stealth is a reminder of the depth and diversity of the UK’s quantum technologies sector.”

Yesterday KPN and a team in the Netherlands demonstrated a project to build a quantum-secure network on its existing fibre infrastructure.

ColdQuanta, a company now led by Zayo founder Dan Caruso, told Capacity in March that it plans to offer quantum computing services in the cloud by the end of 2021.