April 24, 2023

"We are building the future of compute": Inside the partnership that hopes to accelerate quantum

Dr Ilana Wisby, Oxford Quantum Circuit’s CEO, talks about about making quantum accessible, the funding gap and the ethics of the tech, this week on the podcast

Steph Bailey

3 min read

At the Galician Supercomputing Centre (CESGA) in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, a next generation quantum computer will be integrated with the infrastructure of a high-performance supercomputer.

It’s part of a partnership between Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC) and Fujitsu — a first for the startup and an effort to get quantum out into the world quicker.

A quantum-as-a-service startup, OQC raised £38m in Series A funding last year. It’s one of 39 quantum tech startups in the UK and 147 in Europe.


“We are building the future of compute,” Dr Ilana Wisby, OQC’s CEO said on the most recent episode of Startup Europe, The Sifted Podcast. “And what we’re doing at OQC is making sure that we are building that future in a way that’s accessible for everyone. And that means we need to get it into the hands of humanity, of our customers, as quickly as possible.”

Wisby said that partnerships are necessary to unlock the potential impact in “pretty much every single market vertical out there” — from finance to drug discovery.

“It’s not until we’ve got the quantum computers at the point that we can really start to play with them that we’re really going to be able to understand the full scope of applications,” she said.

A quantum computer developed by Oxford Quantum Circuits
A quantum computer developed by Oxford Quantum Circuits

Like tech incumbents Google and IBM, OQC is betting on superconducting circuit technology. Lucy — Oxford Quantum Circuits’ eight-qubit quantum computer, named after German quantum mechanics pioneer Lucy Mensing — is commercially accessible via Amazon Braket.

👉 Read: Different types of quantum startups explained

The quantum funding gap

While the UK just announced a £2.5bn bucket of funding for quantum computing over the next 10 years, Wisby said there’s “certainly a funding gap” and she will have to look to the US for OQC’s Series B.

“The US has got a significant amount of capital investment,” she said. “I think that speaks more to the global industry and startup risk appetite more generally and it is certainly an area that is high risk, high reward.”

But funding challenges aside, she insists a world with quantum is coming — soon.

“The genie is out of the bottle, this stuff is inevitable,” she said. “There’s enough money, enough people, enough talent, enough technology, we’re far enough down the road.”

Because of this inevitability — and reasons concerns surrounding the rapid development of Generative AI and the possible decryption powers of quantum — Wisby added that the sector, particularly leaders like her, should continually think about ethics.

“It’s not until Bob at home can go into ChatGPT and go wow that they’ve really fully understood the impact,” she said.

On this episode of the Sifted podcast we also chatted about:

Steph Bailey

Steph Bailey is head of content at Sifted. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn