In the race to develop Quantum Computing, in addition to facing challenges across the Pacific in the form of China’s Jiuzhang Computer, the United States is looking like it faces challenges across the Atlantic as well. The United Kingdom continues to look like a challenger in the battle for quantum supremacy. In January 2021, River Lane Research secured a £14.6 million ($20.2) Series A. River Lane spun out of the University of Cambridge in 2019 and is working toward creating an operating system for quantum computers. Additionally, River Lane’s first application was published in February 2021, directed to measuring an energy state of a quantum computer. River Lane’s application is unusual in the Quantum Computing sector, where most of the patents and applications are directed either to hardware or logical circuits used to model quantum gates. The application could presage a maturing sector, as companies start to see quantum hardware as advancing to a point where developing software is a viable business model.
River Lane isn’t the first British quantum computing company to appear on the Patent Forecast. In the past, the Patent Forecast has highlighted PsiQuantum, which was originally based out of Bristol and moved to San Francisco in 2019. It remains to be seen whether the UK can continue to foster and develop growing quantum computing startups, or if a move to the United States will become a natural course as quantum computing companies grow. Also what remains to be seen is who River Lane chooses to partner with in order to develop its quantum computing operating system. The recently published application is not specific as to what types of qubit the quantum computer uses, or any other specific hardware. Unless River Lane decides to entirely shift gears, it is likely that they need to partner with one of the major hardware developers, such as IBM, Microsoft, or D-Wave Systems. For now, their options are open, but keep on the lookout for a partnership in the near future!
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Quantum computing is the use of quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform computation.