Grupo Arcano Invests in Tech Firm Cambridge Quantum Computing

​Cambridge Quantum Computing was co-founded by Ilyas Khan, leader in residence at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School and chairman of The Stephen Hawking Foundation. Interview by Fernando Bruccoleri.

– Ilyas, how was the beginning in quantum computing and what led to create CQCL?

Have been following progress in Quantum Computing for a very long time now, and specific interest from a commercial standpoint was stimulated when was part of a presentation made by John Martinis (then at University of California Santa Barbara and now at Google). More recently was on the investment committee of the University of Cambridge Business School’s business accelerator that helped to found and saw at first hand some of the amazing successes from the University. This inspired to stop thinking about Quantum Computing and actually do something about it. The company was founded primarily through a small team that came from the Maths dept in Cambridge.

– CQCL participated for the first time in the startup showcase of eMerge Americas in Miami 2015 ¿What motivated to participate in the event? What were the expectations?

As are mainly based in the UK, were not so familiar with eMerge. However the reputation of the event, and the efforts of Miami to create a tech-hub appealing. It is the intention to have a US base as well as a UK one, and so the attendance at eMerge conference last year was the first and indeed the last as startup. Primary motivation was to try and understand what sort of new technologies were being discussed and explored that might be relevant to Quantum Computing.

– During eMerge Americas the first approach with Grupo Arcano was generated, ¿How was the process of the investment?

The process of agreeing an investment by Grupo Arcano was very smooth, although it took a little time due to the very high level of professional due diligence that they exercised. In this respect Grupo Arcano operate very similar to the standards and procedures employed by Venture Capital Investors in Silicon Valley. The term sheet and legal documentation are of the highest standards and have worked closely with both the London based and Santiago based teams of Grupo Arcano.

 CQCL was listed in the 2016 Bloomberg Business Innovators list.—  How feel about that?

Were both surprised and very pleased to have been chosen on the Bloomberg list. It is very prestigious, and the process by which companies are selected is very thorough. Of course know that Quantum Computing will indeed change the world and with it will change our lives so are also very excited that people are starting to realise this potential.

– What does the future brings for Quantum Computing?

In January of 2015 wrote an article about the pace of development within Quantum Computing. At that time thought that the expectations might be a little aggressive. As it turns out, the announcements that have seen in the past few months have shown that quantum computing is not a distant or far away objective and that the expectations were probably too conservative. There are a number of areas in which already know that Quantum Computing will help to solve problems that are currently not possible in realistic timeframes by classical computers. However it is only when start to have access to Quantum Computers will the potential become clear. In this respect it is worth remembering that few people in the mid-1970’s or early 1980’s would have forecast how much lives would be impacted by the acceleration of speed and processing power for computers. Once those changes came about, just found many many many ways to harness that power. Similarly the true potential for quantum computers will become evident once the early proto-types give way to more complete models.

– What are the next steps for CQCL?

2015 and 2016 remain highly driven by R+D efforts. Will be opening U.S base in California in the coming months, and will start to engage more meaningfully with commercial partners for whom Quantum Computers are essential as they prepare for the future. Currently focus on 4 groups within the company, ranging from quantum simulation to the development of algorithms that can help to achieve the potential of early models of a quantum computer. Believe that in the next few years quantum computers will have to work alongside classical computers so the approach is to ensure that can work with governments and large organizations that have made such enormous investments in their existing infrastructure.