Horizon Quantum raises seed financing to $3.23m for software development

Horizon Quantum raises seed financing to $3.23m for software development

Published: 23-06-2020 11:13:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 629 | Tags:

Horizon Quantum Computing, a Singapore-based startup developing programming tools for quantum computers announced it has increased its seed financing to $3.23 million, a seed-plus round led by Sequoia Capital India with participation from previous investors SGInnovate, Abies Ventures, DCVC, Qubit Protocol, Summer Capital and Posa CV.

Horizon Quantum Computing aims to bridge the gap between quantum computers and conventional software development. Quantum computers are a potentially disruptive technology for many industries. However, gaining a performance increase from these systems requires deep expertise. Quantum mechanics defies human intuition, making it difficult to construct non-trivial quantum algorithms.

The pool of specialists capable of developing new quantum applications is estimated at fewer than one thousand people worldwide. While there are tens of millions of conventional software developers, with 46 million users registered on GitHub alone, their expertise does not carry across to programming quantum computers. The mission of Horizon Quantum Computing is to unlock the power of quantum computing for them.

Dr Joe Fitzsimons, CEO of Horizon Quantum Computing said: “Quantum computing represents a fundamentally new model of computation, holding great promise as a new approach to tackling hard computational problems. As hardware development continues to advance, learning to harness the power of quantum processors for business applications will become the main barrier to adoption. At Horizon Quantum Computing, we are tackling this problem head-on, by developing methods to automatically accelerate conventional computer programs using quantum techniques.''

Horizon Quantum Computing is developing tools to automatically accelerate programs written for conventional computers, adapting them for quantum processors. Last December, the company revealed key components of its unique approach to quantum programming at the Q2B conference in San Jose, California.

Dr Si-Hui Tan, Chief Science Officer at Horizon Quantum Computing said: “The conventional approach to developing quantum applications is to explicitly specify the individual steps of a quantum algorithm, or to use a library where such explicit steps are specified. What makes our approach unique is that we construct quantum algorithms directly from conventional source code, automatically identifying places where it can be sped up. Everything that relates to quantum mechanics happen under-the-hood and on-the-fly in our compiler. This automation is what alleviates the need for any quantum knowledge. All our users have to do is to provide their program in a conventional programming language.”

Horizon’s tools will also make life easier for experienced quantum software developers, by allowing them to construct complex programs with fewer lines of code and by automatically optimising their programs for real processors. 

While Horizon’s approach is hardware agnostic, the company has worked closely with hardware manufacturer Rigetti Computing, with whom Horizon Quantum Computing partnered in September 2018. Preliminary results from this effort were presented at the Rigetti Advantage workshop in February demonstrating rapid device characterisation and error mitigation techniques on Rigetti’s processors. These techniques will ultimately improve performance of programs compiled using Horizon’s tools. Today, the known applications that will benefit from the quantum calculation capacity include logistics, finance, chemistry and pharma.

“Our tools will greatly increase the applicability of quantum computing to industry-relevant problems, opening up new use cases and enabling easier adoption of the technology,” said Dr Joe Fitzsimons. Horizon’s team expects that its tools will uncover new domains where quantum computing can provide a significant competitive advantage, including in fields such as computational fluid dynamics, electromagnetic simulations and complex geophysical calculations.

The additional funding will allow the company to accelerate the speed at which it can bring its innovative technology to market, to further engage with customers and early adopters and to continue strengthening its team. 

Dr Lim Jui, Chief Executive Officer of SGInnovate who led the company’s seed round in 2018 said: “We view quantum computing as an emerging technology that will become inevitable in the future. Five, 10 years or beyond, we are certain that quantum technology will be a game-changer and will have a tremendous impact on the world – from how governments and organisations work, right down to our everyday lives. Horizon Quantum Computing’s mission to enable quantum technology for all, simplifying it and making it more accessible to users, has the potential to shorten the time for us to see new quantum-enhanced applications for the next Deep Tech breakthrough. We look forward to seeing how their solution will open up the playing field for more innovations in the Quantum world.”