Quantum technology – how do the opportunities stack up?
+ In the next 20 years, quantum is set to significantly improve reliability, speed, accuracy and security of products and services. It is both an opportunity and a threat for cyber security, it will enable new medical diagnostics and pharmaceutical techniques, dramatically improve the precision of navigation above and below water, reveal potential earthquakes and more.
[A]nyone looking to thrive in the world of quantum will need to understand how the whole chain from qubits, components and electronics to operating systems and algorithms works. That will either mean being a big player, or being part of a consortium that knows the ecosystem well enough to bridge the likely compatibility gaps between the different parts.
+ But, as with any new technology, commercialisation is full of challenges for investors and businesses. For instance, developing software for the upper end of the stack is hard if you don’t yet know what the bottom end looks like. And developing the hardware and components is risky because it takes time and money, and it simply might not work. In short, when it comes to how mature the ecosystem is, quantum is roughly where classical computers were in the 1970s: computers allowed breakthroughs and made routine tasks easier, but they needed specialists to programme them to solve specific problems. A general-purpose computer with an operating system capable of supporting software was still a decade away
+ There’s a clear opportunity with quantum technologies to create a new ecosystem, from miniaturising optical or vacuum parts to quantum operating systems, apps and algorithms, and maybe even Q-SaaS. As we’ve seen, it’s still developing, highly fragmented and not massively vertically integrated. The best bet for new companies is to group together in consortia that combine the relevant expertise to answer the many questions ahead. They’ll also need access to organisations with relevant problems for the technology to solve – problems not already being worked on by the tech behemoths.
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