Québec’s quantum scene gets boost with new factory, startup studio

DistriQs executive director Richard St-Pierre
French VC, quantum processor manufacturer choose Sherbrooke for its academic expertise, infrastructure.

Québec’s quantum sector is getting a boost with a new factory and tech hub being established in the province.

The Quantum Innovation Zone (DistriQ), a collective of quantum expertise based in Sherbrooke, Qué., will house both the tech hub and the factory, the latter of which is being established by the Canadian subsidiary of French quantum company PASQAL.

Though they are two separate initiatives, both will be located in DistriQ’s Espace Quantique 1, a 50,000-sq. ft.. building set to open in early fall.

PASQAL’s factory will produce “state-of-the-art” quantum processing devices.

The tech hub, called the Quantum Studio, is created in partnership with Quantonation Ventures and Accélérateur de Création d’Entreprises Technologiques (ACET), a tech incubator based in Sherbrooke, Qué. In this partnership, Quantonation provided an undisclosed amount of investment, while ACET will support quantum startups through its network of specialized coaches and other resources.

While Canada is losing its quantum staple in D-Wave, which is moving its Burnaby, BC head office to the United States, these two new initiatives could help Québec and other provinces continue to expand their market share in the quantum science category.

According to DistriQ, which is led by executive director Richard St-Pierre, quantum startups have specific characteristics that require a whole ecosystem to be created. It cited factors like academic excellence, infrastructure, large talent pool, as well as access to private and non-dilutive financing.

DistriQ said that the Quantum Studio is specifically designed to help quantum innovators research, develop, and refine their projects with the aim of creating new technology for customers.

Quantum Studio would be the most recent quantum science hub to be created in Québec. In March, Ericsson Canada also announced it established a quantum research hub in Montréal as part of its partnership with the University of Ottawa and the Université de Sherbrooke.

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Located in the same building, PASQAL’s factory will produce “state-of-the-art” quantum processing devices and will function as the flagship installation of its Canadian subsidiary.

Founded in 2019, PASQAL builds quantum processors from ordered neutral atoms in 2D and 3D arrays. In 2022, it opened its Canadian office, which is also located in Sherbrooke-based DistriQ.

Quantum computers can perform many calculations simultaneously. Once they are deployed, quantum computers can process more information than classical computers. PASQAL said multiple industrial applications can result from this technology, such as the optimization of batteries and solar cells, as well as distribution and transport networks.

According to PASQAL, this factory will manufacture hardware for the North American market, with the aim of accelerating the adoption of neutral atoms quantum computing in the region. It aims to develop new commercial applications in multiple areas, including smart cities, energy, and materials science.

As Québec has been active in its quantum strategy, other companies across Canada have also made moves to advance quantum research and procurement in the country.

On Thursday, Vancouver-based BTQ Technologies announced its acceptance into the Quantum Energy Initiative, a global community of quantum technologies companies and research organizations.

In joining the initiative, BTQ said it aims to contribute towards a number of goals, including defining energy-based metrics for quantum technologies, understanding the impact of hardware and software on energy consumption, and others.

Featured image courtesy DistriQ.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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