On Friday, IBM Canada and The Platform for Digital and Quantum Innovation of Québec (PINQ²) celebrated the unveiling of an IBM Quantum System One in IBM’s facility in Bromont, Que.
“Today, Quebec is taking a giant step forward in a strategic sector of the future,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, the province’s minister of the economy, innovation and energy, minister responsible for regional economic development and minister responsible for Greater Montreal and the Montreal Region, in a statement.
“The arrival of IBM’s quantum computer sends out a clear message: the work we are doing in our DistriQ innovation zone in Sherbrooke and Technum Québec in Bromont shows that Quebec has the talent and know how to become one of the world leaders in quantum sciences.”
IBM Canada will own, operate and maintain the system, whose sole administrator will be PINQ², a non-profit organization (NPO) founded in 2020 by the Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Energy of Quebec (MEIE Ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et de l’Énergie du Québec) and the University of Sherbrooke, for the duration of a five-year agreement.
“Essentially, the way it works is that we own and are responsible for managing the infrastructure. So making sure it runs the way it should,” explained IBM senior innovation executive, quantum computing and semiconductor manufacturing Jean-François Barsoum, in an interview.
“These things require recalibration every once in a while; there’s some tuning, there’s some upgrades also that happened during the cycle. So we manage all of that during the five year period of the contract. But it’s essentially for their [PINQ²’s] exclusive use. So they decide what they want to do with it. They decide on pricing, on contracting, they’re responsible for making it live in a sense, on the on the commercial side. And of course, we provide assistance there as well.”
As part of their partnership, announced in July, IBM and PINQ² will lead a quantum working group focusing on using the technology to develop solutions to sustainability challenges. It will be supported by its founding members; Hydro Quebec and the University of Sherbrooke through its Institut Quantique.
In addition to having access to an IBM Quantum System One, the high performance computing centre (HPC) at the Humano District in Sherbrooke will enable PINQ² to offer a hybrid computing approach. This, the companies said in a release, will provide businesses with an opportunity to access a full range of hybrid quantum computing services and assess the potential of digital and quantum technologies and innovations within their existing processes. The emphasis will be on specific sectors such as healthcare, energy, manufacturing, the environment, and sustainable development.
In addition, said Barsoum, “what we want to do with the broader definition of accelerated discovery is to see how we can use both AI and quantum technologies in parallel to tackle a problem simultaneously. So if your objective is to create a new material, AI may have a use, and quantum may have a use, and so the thing to do is to try to break up your problem in ways that make sense for each of those sets of technologies to work on together in order to get to a solution.
“But we can see AI and quantum might work in different ways. So quantum algorithms may be used to help train AI, we might use AI to try to narrow down the field or even decide what kinds of algorithms to test out with quantum computers. There’s really a nice feedback loop that may happen between those two sets of technologies.”
Added Éric Capelle, CEO of PINQ², in a statement, “this achievement [Quantum System One’s inauguration] is the result of over 30 years of research efforts in the quantum field in Quebec. Not only have we developed significant expertise, but Canada now ranks among the top countries in the world in this field, and we also have a state-of-the-art machine at our disposal.
“This accomplishment is drawing international attention, with the potential to attract businesses, create jobs, and empower us to address complex challenges such as cybersecurity, wildfire prevention, flood management, and molecular simulations for new medications. We are already collaborating with several companies, including startups in various sectors, and we hope to continue introducing companies to quantum computing in the future.”