When and How Will Quantum Technology Be Commercialized?

Interviewee: Danika Hannon
Deputy Head and International Quantum Strategist Day Chair (IQSD), Quantum Strategy Institute
Interviewer: Rhian Granleese
Partner, Marks & Clerk




[Rhian] Hello from London. I’m Rhian Granleese. I’m a partner and a patent attorney in the London office of the intellectual property firm. Marks and Clark, and I’m also a member of the editorial board of Dead Cat Live Cat. Today, it’s my great pleasure to chat with Danica Herman of the content strategy Institute and chair of the International quantum strategist day. Did I pronounce your name correctly, Danika?

[Danika] Yep, that sounds great.

[Rhian] Thank you. Anyway, welcome to Dead Cat Live Cat.

[Danika] Well, thank you. It’s a true privilege to be here. I’ve heard wonderful things about Dead Cat Live Cat. And it’s fantastic to get to speak with you today.

[Rhian] Well the pleasure is ours. And I’d like to first of all, take you back to the beginning. So how did your journey and quantum computing start?

[Danika] Yes, that’s a great question. So over my career, I’ve gotten to work internationally and domestically, and I’ve worked for nonprofits and global corporations. And I’ve also worked in the Food and Agriculture industries, as well as finance and technology. So I’ve been really privileged, I’ve gotten to move through a variety of spaces and industries. And over that time, I realized I was very interested in quantum mechanics. So since 2018, I’ve been strategically moving into the quantum computing space. And over the past few years, I became a leader of the Minnesota quantum computing meetup. I completed a data science bootcamp, I served on the woman and quantum Advisory Board, volunteered for quantum computing, an AI startup called Bold say, I became a relationship manager with Cambridge quantum computing. And most recently, I’ve gotten to join the quantum strategy Institute as a deputy head and their international quantum strategist, Day Chair.

[Rhian] Wow. Such an amazingly varied career.

[Danika] Well, thank you. It’s been a lot of fun. And, you know, there’s so much to get done still. So it’ll be exciting to see where it goes.

[Rhian] But the dynamics of all those sort of different industries must be so wonderful to then to apply that to something so emerging as quantum.

[Danika] Yeah. Thank you. It really is. Absolutely.

[Rhian] So where does, you’re now with when you’re working with USI? How did you get involved with that initially?

[Danika] Yeah. So first, a little bit about QSI. So the quantum strategy Institute or QSI is an international network of cross domain experts. We all have very rich and varied expertise. But what unites us all is that we all share a passion for quantum technologies. And we have a drive to explore him to further the understanding of the practical applications of quantum computing across into industries. So we can help to bridge the whitespace between potential and practicality. And I was able to get involved with QSI by having the very good fortune of getting connected with Brian Lenihan, who’s our founder and the chair of QSI informatics I’ve been following Brian for quite a while on LinkedIn. So even before we got the chance to meet, I was aware of his work. And I already had a lot of respect for his thought leadership. So then over the summer, Brian and I got to meet and the first time we met was during an interactive speaking event that I was leading. And then later on, we had a one on one networking call. Over those interactions, we realized that my ability to build relationships and to drive results would increase our chances of achieving QSI’s mission every day. And that launched my involvement with que si, and it’s been a true privilege to support our team since day one.

[Rhian] So quantum, the Quantum Strategy Institute, I understand is the think tank. Yeah. So how does that sort of fit into the quantum ecosystem?

[Danika] That’s a great question. So even as the quantum ecosystem by aiming to fuel the development of a quantum mindset, in every part of every business through a global network of very passionate experts, researchers and enthusiasts who are all supporting the business community, and added to that are in our mission is to smooth the intersection of scientific breakthroughs and business applications. We’re doing that by creating an independent technology agnostic platform that brings together this research, education, business strategy and principles all under one roof. And what we’re seeing is that quantum as a technology is at its nascent stage. So an organization like QSI, is really critical to help highlight the commercial and use your needs and perspectives at this point in time, so that we can increase the likelihood that investments into quantum technologies will produce useful applications and returns that are going to keep that investment pipeline flowing.

[Rhian] Right. So in terms of sort of you said, to sort of keep the investment pipeline, sort of flow and who to who to see as sort of coming to your think tank to ask for advice.

[Danika] Yeah, absolutely. So what we’ve seen so far is that we’re getting a lot of attention from the business development community. So with the business and strategy expertise that we bring to the table, as well as the understanding of quantum technologies, we can act as translators and help people understand what do these different breakthroughs mean? And how are they relevant to the business leaders who are going to be using this technology one day? And then more importantly, how can they start acting on this now? So as we’ve gotten a better understanding of our audience, we are seeing that it’s heavily focused in the business development area.

[Rhian] Right. So with that sort of with BD in mind, what do you see as being the sort of first commercial applications of quantum computing then?

[Danika] Fantastic question. So one of the first commercial applications are watching very closely is quantum cybersecurity, because that’s research and development that’s being applied in an area that’s moving very rapidly. And it has many implications for the security space. And some countries, there are already 1000s of kilometers of communication lines that are quantum key distribution secured already. So we’ve seen quite a bit of groundwork being laid into this place. There’s a lot of movement here. And Joe Galvani, who’s QSI’s his head of risk has recently written an article about understanding the risk impact and the threats of quantum computing of work cryptography in cybersecurity. And his article he shared key insights into what business leaders need to be thinking about when it comes to quantum cybersecurity. So I’d encourage anyone who’s curious about the near term commercial applications of quantum computing to go to QSI’s website to read Joe’s article and starting to get familiar very seeing first time leader in the application space.

[Rhian] That’d be great. I’m hoping we can put a link on it after this talk on Dead Cat Live Cat.

[Danika] Absolutely.

[Rhian] That sounds really interesting. So you’re saying, you know, we have these sort of quantum networks already. But when do you? When do you actually expect them to be because at this stage, I believe they sell at the research stage on sort of proof?

[Danika] Yes, you’re absolutely right. So we are still in the research stage. So to your question of when do we expect quantum computing to be commercially implemented? Brian and I recently explored this in an article about how to approach quantum computing. And when Brian was researching this topic, he found a perspective from Raghunath Koduahgbar. He is the head of marketing, communications, IQM and Raghunath had some really interesting guidance about this. And his guidance on how long that will take to become commercially implemented was. I believe that full scale commercialization of quantum computing is still about 10 years away, or maybe three to five years for application specific co designed quantum computers. But three to five years is nothing. And that means that whoever is making strides today is who businesses and investors will likely be looking at. So Robin asked guidance here he’s saying that there are some applications that we’re going to see become more relevant to the market more quickly than others with quantum cybersecurity being one of those early entrants, there are other applications that we see that they have really great long term potential, but to your point, they’re still in the research stage, and they need more time to get mature. As they keep it in mind, the range of forecasts for the commercial quantum products and in the market is very broad. And one of the hoaxes fork QSI is focusing on quantum that’s available today. And take for example, the QRNG chip and the latest Samsung Galaxy phone where you can buy that right now, which is really exciting. And the same manufacturer recently introduced a quantum crypto secure footprint recognition solutions. So cybersecurity is an area we’re seeing the applications are being developed. And they’re becoming readily available. And there are others that are further out. So it’s a bit of a range of between two, three years on the low end, and five to 10 years on the high end for applications that need more time to mature.

[Rhian] Oh, that’s really soon when you consider you know, that we sort of first heard about COVID, nearly three years, well, two and a half years ago now.

[Danika] Oh, my gosh, I know.

[Rhian] It’s very, very quickly.

[Danika] You’re absolutely right, you’re right.

[Rhian] So which do we say which countries do you think will have the first sort of quantum networks?

[Danika] Yeah. So on a country level, we need to think about innovation that’s taking place in both the government and the business sectors. And because they’re geographies, we have very limited insight into government activities, it may be a little bit difficult to get a true understanding of which countries are leading the way. Although that being said, we can look at public funding of quantum technologies to get a better understanding of which governments are seriously devoting resources to this area. So there’s an organization named ki Recca, or the quantum resources and careers group, where they have particularly this really neat map that shows the global public funding that’s going into quantum technologies. And as we look at that map, we can see the funding worldwide. And as we narrow it down a bit more. The top five countries that are putting money into quantum it’s publicly available, are China, Germany, the United Kingdom, US and Canada. And then as we look at their different funding levels, we’ll see that respectively, it’s 10 billion, roughly 3,000,000,001 point 3,000,000,001 point 2,000,000,001 point 1 billion. So we can see that very different countries that are moving with us. And we do need to be mindful that the private sector is making a lot of advancements too. So just from a government standpoint, or we do have some really nice hard data that we can look at the quantum resources and careers map is a fantastic resource to be looking at. And then as you take that map into the hole, we can see that on a global scale, it’s estimated that governments are putting a combined 24 billion into quantum technologies.

[Rhian] So you reckon those sort of five countries that you mentioned, China, US, Germany, UK, and I’m sorry, I misread? go into?

[Danika] Yeah, absolutely. So that’s where we see a lot of the leadership coming out. And this is a space where we’ll need to watch it closely to get a better understanding of how things will change over time. Because we know this is a very complex problem area, and it has a lot of different things that need to be taken into consideration. But at the start, it is useful to look at funding and see which governments are prioritizing this, what’s the level of resources that they’re putting into it? So it’s definitely useful to look at funding as a framework for Okay, so as we look at this swath of global countries that are pursuing it, who’s dedicated what to it? And what are some of the implications of that.

[Rhian] And which sort of what companies or types of companies do you think would be first to market?

[Danika] To companies who are known for innovation are going to be among the first market entrants. And we’ve seen that the top innovation companies including Amazon, Google, Alibaba, and so on are already making investments into quantum technologies. And to understand how this will impact industries as a whole, we can look to a recent report that was released by quantum.tech and Honeywell for more guidance. And they surveyed a group, a global group of 100 senior leaders who are leading quantum computing projects across multiple industries. And one of their key insights is that the pharmaceutical healthcare industries on the life sciences side, the laboratories and finance industries are going to be among the earliest adopters. So as we look at that, I think finance and the healthcare space, pharmaceuticals a lab, so two areas are the bleeding edge. And then looking further into the future. 20% of those surveyed respondents anticipate that healthcare is going to be the industry that gets the biggest impact from quantum computing.

[Rhian] So healthcare

[Danika] Yeah, absolutely.

[Rhian] Oh, isn’t it fascinating so it’s healthcare.

[Danika] Or the life sciences, you think about healthcare and what it huge umbrella that is.

[Rhian] That’s true.

[Danika] Well, it’s something that I’ve had to learn myself and to really get coaching on the space because it was eye opening of why health care and talking to mentors and leaders in the space and starting to realize that healthcare is this umbrella for insurance for people going to the doctor, people going to the hospital long term health outcomes, and it’s, it’s this incredibly complicated space. So when healthcare pops up, it’s something that I had to look into more of myself to get to understand. Why is that there’s a lot of exciting potential there.

[Rhian] So do you. Do you think sort of looking forward sort of five years from sort of first commercialization whether healthcare will still be one of the key applications? Or do you think there will be others in five years time?

[Danika] Yeah, I absolutely think that healthcare is going to continue to be a space that will be impacted by this. So it’d be really neat if you could take a look back in five years and see if 20% of responders are still saying healthcare is going to be heavily impacted, or if that number even increases, and that turns out to be one of the biggest spots that sees an impact. So a couple of other key applications for us to be thinking about as we look to the future are cybersecurity and quantum machine learning. We touched on this briefly earlier. But with cybersecurity, it does have such big implications for the security space, that we know that’s an area that we need to be very closely watching right now. And over the long run, quantum cybersecurity is only going to become more important to every consumer and organization that’s out there. So it’s going to touch on all of our daily lives at some point. And then in addition to that, quantum machine learning is another space to be paying attention to because of its long term potential to impact business science and technology. And at present, we’re seeing research into applying quantum machine learning problems in a variety of spaces. And that’s ranging from reducing risk and finance to driving efficiencies in manufacturing. And because of the really broad potential of quantum machine learning, Amrita Manzari, who’s our head of quantum machine learning and artificial intelligence is doing a fantastic job of writing thought leadership in this space that we can help business leaders navigate this area to move with certainty.

[Rhian] Also, a wide a wide range of things. So when to expect things to start to become profitable.

[Danika] Yeah. So this is from a very conservative standpoint, but we estimate that quantum computing applications will become profitable within the next five to 10 years. And this, although this may vary based on how quickly applications mature, for instance, an optimization solution may offer a faster path to profit in the near term. But there is a recent report that was put out by the Boston Consulting Group BCG. And what they said is that quantum simulation solutions are forecast to create more value than optimization over time. So added to that, as the underlying hardware of quantum computers improves, the input costs are going to decrease, and that’ll shorten the time that it takes to become profitable. So from a bird’s eye view, we do think it’ll be five to 10 years, and we think that optimization will likely be the path that leads to profit the fastest, but over time, we may see that start to shift.

[Rhian] Right. So how profitable do you expect them to be? Or is that an impossible question to answer?

[Danika] Yeah, I think that is the million dollar question for so many years right now? That is a great question. So at this point, we will need to wait for companies to report their results as you hinted at. But with the recent BCG report, they analyze the value that different quantum computing solutions will create once they’ve matured. And they’re predicting that with quantum cybersecurity, the estimated value creation is 40 to 80 billion optimization is 100 to 220 billion, machine learning is 150 to 220 billion and simulation is 160 to 330 billion. But even at the low rate, even at the low end of these ranges, that’s a considerable amount of value. So we will need to wait for companies to start recording their profits. But as we look to the future, there’s some pretty interesting analysis and predictions that are coming out around the value that this will be creating.

[Rhian] I suppose the sort of figures being put on this already. And so what types of companies you know, to what extent, companies likely to collaborate with each other? And to what extent are they likely to try and sort of go it alone?

[Danika] Yeah, we’re at a really exciting point in time, because we’ve seen quite a bit of collaboration in the marketplace. Pardon me. So for instance, a good example to look at is the industry partnerships that are being led by a stranger X quantum computing. So founded in 2018, strangeworks acts as a platform that acts as a hub for all quantum hardware and software vendors. enterprise’s academia and government entities to come together in one spot and start to access quantum computing. And over the last three years, Stranger works has collaborated with Cambridge quantum called Quantum cold quanta, and IBM, among others. So that’s just an example of one company who’s already making deep partnerships in the space. And they’re really driving that culture of collaboration. And then on the research side, many vendors are publicly sharing their research results. And that’s creating an open ecosystem where innovation that’s launched in one area can cross over to another.

[Rhian] So what so, you mentioned strange works, but what sort of types of companies are we see and sort of, are we seeing the sort of real big companies partnering with much smaller entities or is it just generally smaller companies banding together, to develop something?

[Danika] Absolutely. So ultimately, deciding whether to collaborate is going to come down to what leaders feel is best for their business. So in instances where opening up hardware and software is really beneficial, it can make quite a bit of sense for vendors to make their technology as accessible as possible and to create partnerships with others. And what’s so fascinating on the hardware and software side is that we have seen a lot of partnerships between major players and smaller companies where they’re working together very closely. So Amazon Web Services is a nice example of this, where they’re hosting multiple hardware providers on their cloud platform. So Amazon’s as, you know, very resource rich company. And they’re still working closely with providers who are putting their hardware out there, too. So at this point in state, at this point in time, we’re seeing a lot of collaboration ecosystem, and we’re seeing a lot of small and large companies work together, which is pretty exciting. But then there are other areas. So if we look at the creation of new algorithms, or developing hardware breakthroughs, where we’re seeing that leadership is determining that it may be better for them to act alone until the timing is right for them to share their progress publicly. So going back to your question, there, we’re seeing a bit of a mix and how the collaboration is moving. And it seems to be based off of what’s best for the end consumer and what’s best for my company. We’re seeing people act along those lines, but on the whole, it’s a very collaborative environment right now.

[Rhian] So do you think, you know, when we have a sort of large ecosystem of products, we standards sort of started to develop? Do you think we’ll there’ll be standards organizations set up in the quantum space to sort of provide interim? I can’t say it, interoperability between different technologies and implementations?

[Danika] Yeah, absolutely. So as the industry continues to mature, we expect that clear standards will get created. And for example, in the US, we’ve seen that the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, is a leader in this space. And in fact, breakthroughs at NIST have helped create the quantum computing industry. And they’re helping to shape the industry’s future. So NIST is definitely one of those organizations that’s taking a leadership role in setting standardization and to helping the industry mature.

[Rhian] That’s good. And, you know, we have some Open Source Self, we have a server open source. The software is sort of built up in in many sort of fields of computing. Do you think we’ll see the same thing in quantum computing that there’ll be vendors put in their software out there for other people to develop? And?

[Danika] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think you’re right on with that question. So one example of this is IBM. And IBM is one of the largest vendors in this industry. And qiskit, which is at the heart of their software, is an open source software development toolkit. And what’s really neat about IBM’s approach to qiskit Is that they’ve created a dedicated website where anyone can download their software and began researching algorithms and working with their toolkits. And as a result of that openness, they’ve created a very large user base that’s using qiskit as a stepping stone into the industry and as a tool to build up their skills. So there’s multiple vendors who have created open source software solutions, but IBM is really a leader in this space and a good example to point to.

[Rhian] so that they’re already there.

[Danika] They’re already there.

[Rhian] So do you expect sort of in the future, large tech companies will start to acquire some of the smaller startups and do you expect many of the celtics of this field to then be going be driving their business plans towards acquisition?

[Danika] Yeah, so on the producer side, we may see an increase in acquisitions as industry players look to the future and start to chart your best path forward. And earlier this month, Honeywell quantum solutions merged with Cambridge quantum to create a new company named Quontinium. prior to the merger, Honeywell quantum solutions was known for their quantum computing hardware Cambridge quantum was recognized for their software. By merging these companies, they brought complementary offerings underneath one roof. Although on the other side, acquisitions may not be the route that they take. Instead, we may see innovative companies on the consumer side, were working with multiple producers. And for instance, BMW recently partnered with Amazon Web Services to host a competition for developing innovative quantum algorithms for industrial challenges. And the challenge winners included three different quantum competing vendors. So in this instance, we’re seeing a single, consumer company who’s publicly working with four different vendors.

[Rhian] Right. Is that different from what we from the sort of ecosystem we see in other industries? Or is that around going slightly? Just curious?

[Danika] That’s a great question. I think so, i think so read it. Right now, it seems like the consumers of quantum computing are working with multiple vendors so that they can get a feel for what technology is the best fit for them, and which vendor can help them to achieve their end goals. And the way that they’re doing that is by taking a very conservative approach and working with multiple partners. So it’s, it’s a growing point in the industry, it may change over time. But that’s what we’re seeing right now is quite a bit of cross collaboration in that area.

[Rhian] It’s an industry of what I understand that it’s such a, such a high entry barrier on the hardware side, sort of.

[Danika] yeah, for the hardware producers, I have a huge amount of respect for the amount of talent and skill that it takes for them to build up the hardware, it is very solving problems that are almost unfathomably hard. And it’s amazing that they have made the progress that they have. And then it seems like it’s just everyday it gets a little bit faster. And like we are approaching an inflection point where we’re going to hit a point where the hardware is good enough, that we’re going to start to see things really taking off. So it’s very complex space, and the hardware producers are doing just incredible work to drive things forward.

[Rhian] So with smaller companies started in the field, do you expect them to sort of adopt a business model of licensing the technology? Or do you think they actually would bear in mind those barriers? Will they be trying to develop it themselves?

[Danika] Yeah, so at this stage, it’s uncertain, because we’ve seen small companies act as strong competitors to large companies. As the market matures, the quantum computing, producers may form distinct groups, and we could see smaller companies begin to license their technologies.

[Rhian] We talked earlier about sort of different kinds of various companies that very sorry, countries put in more funding into the quantum space. Do you think international borders will play any role in how or where this technology is commercialized as well?

[Danika] Yeah, we do. So to your point, quantum computing is a bleeding edge technology. And because it touches on sensitive areas, such as cybersecurity, this is something that governments are paying very close attention to. In November, the United States, the United Kingdom issued a joint statement to enhance cooperation on Information Science, and Technology. And this is an early indicator that government guidance will impact how this is commercialized.

[Rhian] That’s fascinating. I have a sort of just one final question I like to ask. And this is a slightly going off quantum computing. But, you know, you’ve mentioned in many sort of pioneering companies in this field and what they do, if you were to invite three scientists, any discipline past or present to a dinner party, who would you invite and why?

[Danika] All that is a fantastic question. And I’m so glad that you included past. One of my dinner attendees, I was around in the early 1900s. He’s not here anymore. So I’m glad you included past I would invite Niels Bohr, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman and Peter Shor, because all three of them have had really major impacts on quantum computing. Niels Bohr discovered quantum mechanics in the early 1900s. Quantum mechanics are the foundation of quantum computing. In 1981, Richard Feynman proposed the idea of building a quantum computer that took roughly 70 years to get from the foundation of quantum computing to the discovery to then the idea being proposed of we could build a computer with this, what do we need to do to get there? And then in 1995, Peter Shor published research that showed how researchers can overcome roadblocks in quantum computing hardware and begin scaling that up and making this into something usable. I’d love to have dinner with them and get their perspective on where the industry is going and what they think will happen next.

[Rhian] Thank you very much. That’s really interesting. I have to refinements fireman’s, top of my list for a dinner party regardless. Just he just has his clarity with the way he explains things? Absolutely. But thank you so much for your time today and taking time to explain your really valuable business insights into this area. And thank you very much for your time.

[Danika] It was my pleasure. Thank you so much. You asked a very insightful and thoughtful questions.

[Rhian] Thank you that the questions is, as I said before, a sort of combination of we put our heads together a dead cat like cat. So.

[Danika] yeah, teamwork makes the dream work.

[Rhian] Exactly. That’s probably something that’s got to go to be true to quantum computers. Gosh, yeah. Thank you very much for your time.

[Danika] Yeah, my pleasure.

Danika Hannon - Guest

Deputy Head and International Quantum Strategist Day Chair (IQSD), Quantum Strategy Institute

Danika Hannon has worked internationally and domestically, for non-profits and global corporations and has been in the food and ag. industries, as well as finance and technology. Since 20018, she has been strategically moving into the quantum computing space. During that time, she: became a leader of the Minnesota Quantum Computing Meetup, completed a data science bootcamp, served on the Women in Quantum Advisory Board, volunteered for a quantum computing and AI start up called Boltz.ai and became a Relationship Manager with Cambridge Quantum Computing.

Rhian Granleese - Host

Partner, Marks & Clerk

Rhian qualified as a patent attorney last century and her practice has grown to encompass most topics that fall under the general headings of electronics and physics. She has particular experience in the fields of: semiconductors, quantum effect devices, memory architecture, medical devices, magnetic devices, optics, telecommunication networks, fabrication techniques; and mathematical modelling. Rhian graduated with an honours degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University, specialising in her final year in physics and theoretical physics. She stayed at Cambridge for a further three years in the Semiconductor Physics Group at the Cavendish Laboratory, gaining her doctorate in research into optical and transport semiconductor devices fabricated by molecular beam epitaxy regrowth. She became a Partner in 2001.

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