Toronto-based quantum computing startup Xanadu, in partnership with MaRS and Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), announced this week the launch of what it claims is Canada’s first quantum network.
Canada Quantum Network (CQN) will launch three nodes, quantum processors where the applications ultimately run in Toronto, providing a quantum testbed for partner organizations to access and develop applications in quantum cryptography, communications, and computation. Construction has begun on the CQN, with initial access expected in 2021.
“Working together we can find the appropriate leverage for quantum technologies while building Canada’s leadership in quantum computing.”
Xanadu was founded in 2016, with a mission of using photons, or particles of light, to perform exceptionally fast and complex computations at room temperature. In September, it released a publicly available photonic quantum cloud platform called the Xanadu Quantum Cloud.
“We believe that deploying a quantum network in Canada with a collaborative set of Canadian partners will jumpstart both innovation and economic development in the emerging field of quantum technology. Our initial partners, MaRS and Creative Destruction Lab, will support entrepreneurs in developing new kinds of applications on the Canada Quantum Network,” said Christian Weedbrook, Xanadu founder and CEO. “Working together we can find the appropriate leverage for quantum technologies while building Canada’s leadership in quantum computing.”
In May 2018, Xanadu raised a $9 million Seed round from Golden Ventures and Real Ventures in order to build out its technology. In July 2019, Xanadu raised an additional $32 million Series A round led by OMERS Ventures towards its cloud platform. In October, the company also became one of the 24 founding members of Quantum Industry Canada, a new industry association created with a goal of ensuring that Canada remains a global leader in the quantum industry based on years of public investment into scientific research.
In 2019, the National Research Council of Canada identified quantum technology as a $142.4 billion opportunity that could employ 229,000 Canadians by 2040. Canada is ranked first in per capita spending in quantum research and development, with over $1 billion invested since 2005.
The CQN’s possible applications include quantum secure communication, quantum sensing, and distributed quantum computing. Xanadu, MaRS, and CDL claim these applications could translate to unhackable elections, secure financial transactions, and increased national security for government, law enforcement, and the military.
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MaRS Discovery District supports over 1,400 Canadian science and technology companies and its Toronto location is considered North America’s largest urban innovation hub. In July, it launched Momentum, a program designed to support high-growth Canadian companies with the potential to reach $100 million in revenue in the next five years. In September, MaRS entered talks with the University of Calgary on the potential of bringing an innovation hub to Western Canada.
“The development of quantum computers is accelerating and quantum networks are required to take advantage of quantum computers,” said Yung Wu, CEO of MaRS. “The creation of the CQN allows Canada to retain and grow the talent pool for quantum applications and is an important cornerstone in the development of the next big industry in Canada.”
Founded in 2012, CDL is a nonprofit that delivers an objectives-based program for scalable, seed-stage, science and tech-based companies. The program has expanded to nine sites in four countries and has previous incubation experience in the quantum space. In July, Qoherent, a quantum computing tech startup incubated through CDL’s Quantum Stream, won Startupfest’s $100,000 prize. Xanadu is one of five technology partners with CDL Quantum.
“The first phase of the CQN in Toronto is the stepping stone towards the long term vision of a nation-wide quantum internet across Canada,” said Sonia Sennik, executive director at CDL. “We are thrilled to participate in the availability of a test bed quantum network which will enable adoption of quantum technologies, generate new ventures and enable sustainable research to build companies.
Image source Xanadu via Facebook