Quantum interest is high, especially in finance - survey

Intel recently suggested the truly heady times for quantum computing could be a decade or more away, and it is not alone in that belief. But two batches of survey results released this month make the case that many companies are investing in quantum much sooner–although both studies were commissioned by quantum technology companies who certainly would like their paydays to arrive more quickly.

Intel’s comments came in the form of a blog post from late November. Since then, quantum computing hardware firm D-Wave Quantum released results of a survey it commissioned that showed that more than 80% of organizations already working with quantum plan to increase their commitments. And just this week, quantum computing software company Classiq touted its own quantum-positive survey results.

According to the survey commissioned by Classiq and conducted by Propeller Insights, 83% of 500 professionals surveyed said their companies already have started investing in quantum research and/or technology. The individual industries ranking the highest in quantum investment include the finance sector (87%), the accounting arena (86%) and the medtech category (83%).

“Quantum is not just an abstract concept,” said Yehuda Naveh, Classiq CTO and co-founder. “Countries around the world and organizations across sectors are putting time and resources behind quantum computing. Steady advances in quantum computing, and the relatively low barrier of entry to explore this critical technology, have already made it possible for companies to build internal knowledge and create and patent IP-related quantum technology, which will have a tremendous impact on what organizations are capable of doing.”

Furthermore, 94% of the businesses surveyed said that quantum will be beneficial to their industry, with finance again leading the way with 96% in that sector seeing clear benefits ahead. The manufacturing sector came in at 94%, and 90% of survey participants from the healthcare/life sciences sector expect quantum computing to benefit their industries.

The finance sector has been one of the earliest proving grounds for quantum computing and quantum-classical computing hybrid simulation projects, so the wide understanding of quantum benefits come as no surprise there. But even beyond seeing future benefits, 97% of financial sector survey participants will inform their organization’s daily decision-making on matters such as budgeting, forecasting, staffing and strategy, and nearly half (49%) that sector group said quantum will inform their businesses’ decision-making by the end of 2022.

Meanwhile, other survey results served to drive home the broader importance of quantum computing, as well as the need for an educated quantum workforce. About 92% of those surveyed said that quantum computing is important to U.S. national security, and 86% said that the U.S. should aim to be the world leader in quantum computing, while 73% stated that they believe the U.S. already is a world leader in quantum.

Companies working with quantum technology also are aggressively organizing their efforts to claim intellectual property rights. The survey found that 71% of respondents said that their organization is either patenting or has plans to patent quantum software-related intellectual property, with the finance sector again out of ahead of the pack with 82% responding in that way. Plus, 77% of the total group worry that sensitive intellectual property could fall into the hands of competitors or bad actors if they outsource quantum software development.

“The world’s most powerful, innovative, dynamic companies are patenting quantum technology to give them an early edge, and that should position them well for the future,” said Classiq CEO and co-founder Nir Minerbi. “Notably, it’s not just high-tech quantum solution providers that are amassing quantum patents. Organizations across sectors are building and protecting quantum applications, too.”

As has been previously and widely observed, all of this excitement is creating demand for a quantum-ready workforce at a very challenging time for hiring. A whopping 95% of survey respondents said their firms plan to hire quantum talent by the end of 2023, and 93% of all respondents expect there to be a tidal wave of demand for people – including developers – with quantum skills.

Many people believe that should drive quantum computing and related fields to become key parts of STEM education programs.

“Integrating quantum computing into STEM curriculums and encouraging students to pursue quantum education to expand the talent pipeline are excellent ideas,” said Dr. Erik Garcell, technical marketing manager at Classiq. “But you can also build quantum knowledge by reading a book, consuming free and low-cost online quantum resources, or setting up a skunkworks project. Because this is a new discipline, you don’t need to have, or attain, years of quantum education or experience to be valuable. And quantum development platforms make it simple for people to create quantum applications, even if those individuals don’t have physics Ph.D.s.”