NEC and D-Wave expand quantum presence in Australia

Brandon How

Japanese conglomerate NEC and D-Wave, a Canadian quantum firm backed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and In-Q-Tel, are expanding their presence in Australia, launching two new quantum services to compete with local offerings.

The joint service offering includes access to D-Wave’s Leap real-time quantum cloud service, which will be available to both the private and public sector and enables access to D-Wave’s Advantage quantum computer.

The two companies are also launching a quantum consultancy service, which will see D-Wave’s quantum data scientists help develop and test quantum-based solutions for problems faced by customers.

NEC is a investor in D-Wave and the first global reseller of Leap. In 2019, the company reportedly invested $10 million to build hybrid apps that work on its high performance computers.

D-Wave, which had a valuation of US$1.2 billion in February 2022, also has the backing of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and US intelligence-linked venture capital firm In-Q-Tel.

In 2021, the NEC developed its first quantum use-case outside of Japan by supporting the Australian Department of Defence complete a calculation of a ‘last-mile resupply’ problem, optimising the use of autonomous vehicles for the resupply of army forces.

NEC and D-Wave have also supplied quantum software to Transport for NSW, which is using the technology to tackle network management and congestion problems.

According to NEC Australia’s national portfolio manager for quantum solutions, Michael Hall, the firm’s collaboration with D-Wave has “already enabled us to provide tangible benefits to the Australian federal government and a key transport entity in New South Wales through successful proof-of-concepts and tailored solutions”.

The expanded presence of the two companies in Australia comes just months after the federal government conducted a secret expression of interest to gauge the maturity of Australia’s quantum computing market.

Quantum also forms part of the advanced capabilities pillar of AUKUS, with the three partners committed to “accelerate investments” and to “integrate emerging quantum technologies in trials and experimentation”.

Defence minister Richard Marles on Monday called for closer collaboration between the AUKUS partners and Japan under the advanced capabilities pillar of AUKUS, although he acknowledged this may not occur in the near-term.

“As pillar two becomes more mature, which is going to take some years… I think there is an opportunity at that point to look at how we can cooperate with Japan in relation to that,” Mr Marles reportedly said.

The Prime Ministers of Australia and Japan signed a joint declaration on security cooperation in 2022. The pact includes a commitment to expand collaboration on advanced defence science and technology, defence industry and high-end capabilities.

The two countries have already launched collaborative defence research projects for robotic and autonomous undersea wafare, another technology priority under pillar two of AUKUS, under a bilateral research, development, test and evaluation arrangement signed in June 2023.

With Justin Hendry

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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