Quantum phase estimation with Fire Opal
May 23, 2023
This year truly exceeded our expectations.
Our core mission is to make quantum technology useful. And our unique focus on quantum control infrastructure software has rapidly turned us into a category defining business for the quantum technology sector - of which we’re immensely proud. Building on the momentum from last year, 2022 has been filled with amazing success for everyone at Q-CTRL.
From scientific breakthroughs, exciting product developments, and growing commercial traction to massive global expansion, we couldn’t be more grateful to our team and our partners, customers, and investors who have supported us along the way.
We’re happy to share some of our achievements as we look back on the year that was, and forward to what we’ll achieve in 2023.
This has been an exceptional year in terms of commercial traction as we’ve built our business, engaged with new customers, and brought two new products to market!
We’ve now scaled our team to around 80 staff and tripled our bookings to over $15M across software licensing, product engineering, and research engagements. This is supported by over 8,000 individual users of our software products - an astounding number matched only by some of the largest quantum computing organizations on the planet!
This makes us one of the fastest growing and most commercially successful companies in the industry, thanks to our truly unique technology and our unwavering focus on delivering real value to end users through the best engineered products in the sector.
We’re grateful to the customers and partners across industry, academia, and government who have joined us this year - we’ll always work to ensure we earn and deserve the trust you’ve placed in us.
“It’s been exciting to watch Q‑CTRL develop from an inaugural member of our startup network to an important collaborator in IBM’s efforts. We recognize the impact Q‑CTRL is having on the industry and look forward to working together more closely.”
The successes we have achieved across the company this year have been grounded in our research. March was a big month for us as we hit one of our key achievements of the year: demonstrating up to 9,000x improvement in algorithmic success with advanced error suppression techniques that we built in-house. With these improvements, we are closing the performance gap between the promise of quantum computers emerging on the market, and the actual computational capabilities they can deliver to end users. In the process we’re bringing real-world quantum applications closer to fruition.
You can read more about how this technology works across a wide range of performance benchmarks in our comprehensive technical manuscript. There we show huge gains in deterministic algorithms, hybrid and variational algorithms, Quantum Volume, and even Quantum Error Correction. You can also get a great overview of these exceptional results and how they change the field of quantum computing in the long term from my Keynote at IEEE Quantum Week!
But it’s probably better for you to directly hear how our customers at Capgemini’s Quantum Lab are leveraging this technology - now available through a new product called Fire Opal - to push further with end-to-end, proof-of-concept explorations on current hardware:
“We found process fidelities were improved by more than an order of magnitude versus no error mitigation, with relative improvements increasing with the number of qubits. We further found that fidelities were higher than for other error mitigation tools that we have explored. This is valuable in the short term and in the years ahead as we move closer to quantum advantage this will enable real applications to deliver value sooner.”
We released new collaborative research with Transport for New South Wales - the world’s first transport organization to explore quantum’s possibilities - that demonstrates how in the next few years we may be able to solve transport and logistics optimization problems with quantum computing that are too complex to solve efficiently with classical approaches. As part of this work we even delivered proof-of-principle experimental demonstrations showing how the right approaches to structuring the problem’s execution on hardware could accelerate the threshold of quantum advantage by years. This work could eventually lead to reductions in passenger travel time, improved safety and lower operational costs.
Last but not least, we recently published a technical manuscript solving a key problem in how the quantum computing community can bring automation to the task of characterizing quantum devices. We built and tested a completely autonomous - and optimal - technique to learn important operating parameters for hardware. The new technique was nearly 100x more efficient in achieving a target uncertainty in parameter estimation than standard approaches, saving users time and overhead for monotonous tasks. This capability is coming soon to our software for professional R&D teams, Boulder Opal, in 2023!
Our advances in product development have kept pace with our research breakthroughs in 2022.
On World Quantum Day, we were proud to launch Black Opal Pro - an upgraded and expanded version of our world-first interactive quantum computing learning platform. The Pro version tripled the number of learning modules included to more than 350 interactive lessons, making Black Opal the only tool needed to take new users from discovering the basic concepts of quantum physics in a visual and interactive way to programming quantum computers.
We’re proud that we’re well over 8,000 individual users including investors, engineers, and even undergraduate students.
To meet the growing demand for support in building a quantum ready workforce, we then released Black Opal Enterprise - the only comprehensive and interactive quantum computing education platform which adds enterprise features on top of Pro content. Major customers who signed up even before the product was released included quantum computing provider IonQ, major consultancy Ernst and Young, a Fortune 500 petrochemicals company, a military service in Australia, and a government research center in the UK - stay tuned for exciting announcements in the New Year!
We’re committed to delivering the best tools to the members of the research community who are building the next generation of quantum technologies. So we’ve worked hard to build and release new convenience-focused toolkits designed to empower researchers to get the most out of Boulder Opal’s exceptional capabilities. Our users have already been able to reduce coding requirements by up to 60% while still achieving the exceptional computational performance delivered through our special graph-based programming framework when solving challenging problems in the simulation and optimization of complex quantum devices. Now you get the best of both worlds - performance and simplicity!
To cap off the year, we headed to Q2B Silicon Valley in December where we announced the public release of Fire Opal, a tool to help algorithm developers and quantum computing end users get meaningful results from real quantum computers. Fire Opal packages a wide range of our validated error-suppression tools in a fully automated, zeroconfig tool, so users can achieve the best possible performance from hardware without having to learn or even bother with research in error suppression - we take care of it all for you.
At a time where we stumble around in the dark searching for insights from the randomness we typically see in quantum computer output, Fire Opal allows you see the light in the dark, transforming these outputs into the right answer. This technology is currently available free to any user via the cloud, enabling developers to improve quantum algorithm performance and achieve otherwise unattainable results from real quantum computers today.
Fire Opal delivers truly exceptional enhancements to real hardware. At Q2B, we showed data achieved in collaboration with our customers demonstrating that on real commercial machines it could enable 10x deeper circuits to run, unlocking more valuable algorithms for end users. We showed how it could convert optimization problems from useless “barren plateaus” into fast converging solutions. And we demonstrated how it could make small, low-cost machines perform comparably to high-value premium systems, enabling prototyping and testing that was previously impossible. A test project that cost $224 in quantum compute time with Fire Opal in the workflow would have cost $89,500 on a premium hardware backend!
We’ll keep pushing the limits with Fire Opal, delivering totally new capabilities and support for more hardware backends in the new year!
As we’ve grown and built on our technical successes, 2022 became a time to invest in company leadership.
We hit the ground running in January as we welcomed Aravind Ratnam as our Chief Strategy Officer, responsible for developing and implementing a corporate strategy to scale the company. As the first external hire into the C-Suite since the company was founded, Aravind brings extensive experience from Silicon Valley startups and large deep technology companies where he led product and corporate strategy.
In the middle of the year, our own Head of Quantum Control Solutions, Dr Andre Carvalho, relocated to Berlin to open our new headquarters in Europe! This is a huge step forward as we work to engage more closely with the European research and industrial communities, deliver our unique technology on the continent, and expand our exceptional R&D team.
In late August, we welcomed Alex Shih to our team as Head of Product. Bringing a wealth of product expertise from top Silicon Valley firms such as Slack, Airbnb, Twitter, Google and Planet Labs, Alex leads our product management teams to convert our exceptional technology into products that deliver useful performance and delight to our customers across a range of markets. There’s no doubt that Alex is building one of the best product teams in the quantum industry!
And in November, we grew our leadership team further with the addition of Kelly Gurr as Head of Marketing and Donna Hacker as Head of Finance. Their decades of collective experience has brought valuable expertise to our leadership team, and they are supporting our tightly linked goals of growing our business and customer base.
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the collaborations we built in 2022.
Our quantum sensing team came out of the gate at an incredible clip. One of the team’s early accomplishments this year was securing a $60M Modern Manufacturing Initiative award with a new consortium of partners at Fleet Space, ATSpace, Alauda, and the South Australian Government. The Australian Space Park will house incredible new facilities to enable our collaborations and help us take quantum sensors to space!
Earlier this year we partnered with The Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland’s largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences, to support the scale-up of quantum computers through our combined R&D expertise. We are excited to work with the trapped-ion and superconducting teams at PSI as they work to deliver a critical testbed for industry and research end users.
We have been excited to partner with Sandia National Laboratories on AI automation for quantum computing hardware, supported by a US Department of Energy SBIR award.
As part of the EPIQC NSF Center at the University of Chicago, we’ve been very thrilled to build a new collaboration with Prof. Fred Chong by helping his team leverage our expertise in robust control in order to advance their interests in quantum algorithms and compilation. This is a wonderful example of how our world-leading tools for researchers can drive forward fundamental research in quantum computer science.
In late November, we announced a partnership with Classiq to improve quantum algorithm development by connecting Classiq’s software to Fire Opal and delivering an end-to-end platform for designing, executing, and analyzing quantum algorithms. This integration provides a single interface where developers can use both solutions in tandem to easily create algorithms and run them with high-performance error reduction techniques, simplifying the end-to-end process of getting useful insights from quantum computers.
We were grateful to our early partners who joined us at Q2B to showcase how Fire Opal is delivering them real value from today’s machines - BEIT, Capgemini, and Xerox PARC. Similarly, sincere thanks to Chalmers University and Northwestern for participating in our APSTV video this year!
Lastly, we collaborated with QURECA, the first quantum training and recruiting platform to accelerate quantum computing learning for all through Black Opal - from youth to the C-suite, regardless of their current knowledge level. We’re also grateful to EY for sharing with the Q2B audience how Black Opal is driving better outcomes in the consulting sector as it embraces the quantum opportunity.
Of course, a really wide range of our partners can’t be named publicly - yet! Expect some extraordinarily exciting new announcements on the horizon!
We introduced our quantum sensing division to the world in August, which has grown to become one of the largest specialist teams in the world. Building on our core expertise in quantum control infrastructure software, our team is developing a new generation of ultrasensitive “software-defined” quantum sensors for use in measuring gravity, motion and magnetic fields that can have real-world impact in defense, Earth observation, and space exploration. The team is uniquely able to leverage all the quantum control research and software engineering from across the company to deliver capabilities no other sensing company in the world can!
Excitingly, our team showcased its capabilities publicly for the first time at the Army Quantum Technology Challenge in Adelaide by demonstrating record-breaking quantum sensing for critical Army missions with magnetometry for RF emitter detection. This demonstration was more than 100x better than any previous related demonstration performed in the academic or industrial community. The Army QTC is part of the more than $20M of publicly disclosed contracts and grants awarded to our sensing team and partners.
As a global company with Australian roots, we were honored to be featured on The Australian’s Top 100 Innovators list for our contributions to Australia’s quantum computing ecosystem. I was also honored to speak at this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt on how quantum computing can help individuals and companies to leapfrog their competition - without the need for a PhD in quantum physics. We have given dozens of technical talks over the course of the year, earned appointments to prestigious national and international committees, and won many accolades in the media for the work we do.
But we’re most proud of what our partners and peers say about us. Thanks to all who have offered their support.
“We look forward to supporting Q‑CTRL’s innovations in quantum error suppression, a key to enhancing quantum computing performance and accelerating innovation for our customers.”
“We are excited to partner with Q‑CTRL to combine our expertise and platforms for real-world benefit. Combining our complementary technologies creates a seamless and computationally improved environment that expands the possibilities for quantum developers, and we are proud to enable new, impactful applications.”
On November 22, we celebrated a huge company milestone - our 5 year anniversary. It was a great opportunity to bring our teams together across time zones; we reminisced and reflected on accomplishments from our earliest days seeking to understand how to translate quantum control research into products, to now driving the entire industry forward with world-changing demonstrations of real benefits for quantum end users. Well done to our teams across research, product, engineering and operations who’ve all contributed to our successes.
We reflect on the year with satisfaction for what we’ve accomplished and an agitation to do more in 2023. No one on our team rests on their laurels - we’re here to truly make quantum technology useful and we’ll be excited to share the breakthroughs we make along the way.
Thank you for your support in our journey and for staying in touch as we work hard to build the future of quantum technology.
Happy Holidays to those who are celebrating.
All the best,
Michael J. Biercuk
CEO and Founder, Q-CTRL