Quantum spin-off company Q-CTRL teams up with IBM

5 April 2018
Professor Michael Biercuk's Q-CTRL, based at the University, is one of just eight start-ups worldwide chosen as a collaborator in IBM's Q Network, giving it access to IBM's world-leading quantum technology.
Professor Michael Biercuk, founder and CEO of Q-CTRL, outside the Sydney Nanoscience Hub.

Professor Michael Biercuk, founder of Q-CTRL, outside the Sydney Nanoscience Hub.


Q-CTRL, a quantum technology company spun-out from fundamental research at the University of Sydney, has received a global opportunity by becoming one of just eight startups worldwide selected by IBM for its Q Network of preferred technology collaborators.

The announcement was made on Thursday at the first IBM Q Summit Silicon Valley in Menlo Park, California.

IBM is one of the global leaders in the race to build a quantum computer, technology that has the potential to reshape this century as profoundly as digital computers changed life in the 20th century.

Q-CTRL founder and CEO Professor Michael J. Biercuk, a quantum scientist in the School of Physics, attended the summit alongside 100 start-up founders, venture capitalists and industry leaders and presented to the audience in several sessions.

Professor Biercuk said: “Working with IBM is a logical step for Q-CTRL to develop real solutions to one of the hardest problems in quantum computing – dealing with hardware error. Backed by our partners Main Sequence Ventures and Horizons Ventures, Q-CTRL, headquartered on the University’s campus, is focused on transitioning years of fundamental research to commercial-scale technology for the global quantum economy.”

Q-CTRL is the only company working on the control of quantum hardware to join IBM’s Q Network, a recognition of the world-class research undertaken by Professor Biercuk’s team.

Professor Biercuk said the IBM collaboration gives Q-CTRL the opportunity to further develop its quantum firmware products using the company’s quantum devices.

“As IBM continues to scale-up its quantum computers, we will gain direct access to the company’s most advanced devices and have an opportunity to help solve some of quantum computing’s most vexing challenges,” he said.

“Our techniques are already validated through our ion-trapping laboratory. Working with IBM gives us a new opportunity to test these concepts on a totally different kind of quantum computing hardware.”

Collaborators in the IBM Q Network not only gain unique access to the company’s quantum hardware, but join a network with access to IBM researchers and other Q Network organisations, such as JPMorgan Chase, Daimler, Samsung, JSR Corporation, Barclays, Hitachi Metals, Honda, Nagase, Keio University, Oak Ridge National Lab, Oxford University and University of Melbourne.

IBM is arguably leading the field in the race to build a practical quantum computer, having already made working systems available to their IBM Q Network ecosystem. Other companies, such as Google, Microsoft, IonQ and Rigetti, are also working to construct a practically useful quantum computer.

The director of IBM Research-Almaden Jeff Welser said the goal of IBM’s Q Summit was to “cut through the hype and focus on the present state of quantum computing and how organisations, and developers can prepare for the future”.

The University of Sydney Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Duncan Ivison, said: “This is an outstanding outcome for Professor Biercuk’s company and is a reflection of the high-quality research underpinning it and his drive to commercialise that research.”

Professor Ivison noted that Q-CTRL’s collaboration with IBM comes almost a year after the University joined with Microsoft to establish the Sydney Microsoft Quantum Laboratory under the leadership of Professor David Reilly.

That partnership represents the largest single investment in quantum engineering in Australia.

“This shows that our University is committed to working on a wide range of approaches with researchers and technology companies around the world in the race to build practical quantum technologies,” Professor Ivison said.

“Based at the University of Sydney Nano Institute and its flagship building, the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, our University – as well as the city of Sydney more generally – is the best place in Australia for research and scholarship in quantum technology.”

Q-CTRL: powering the quantum revolution

Professor Michael Biercuk explains Q-CTRL's mission.

Marcus Strom

Media Adviser

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