Oxford Quantum Circuits has launched the UK’s first commercially available quantum computing-as-a-service platform. 

Described as a boost for the nation’s ambitions to be a global quantum superpower, the platform is now available in beta to enterprise companies via its private cloud. 

Having built and launched the UK’s first superconducting quantum computer in 2018, OQC believes it now has the first ‘killer app’ in the next generation of computing technology. 

“The launch of our QCaaS platform is not only a remarkable achievement in the history of Oxford Quantum Circuits, but is a significant milestone in unlocking the potential of quantum computing both in the UK and globally,” said Dr Ilana Wisby, the CEO of OQC.  

“We know quantum computing has the power to be revolutionary but for decades this power and potential has been relatively untested and unverified in the real world.  

“By making our QCaaS platform more widely available to strategic partners and customers, we are offering the world’s leading enterprises the chance to demonstrate just how far-reaching quantum will be for their companies and their industries.” 

Strategic partners and customers will be able to experiment with quantum where it is hoped they will make breakthrough discoveries and tackle some of the world’s most intractable problems.  

OQC’s partner, Cambridge Quantum, will be the first to be given access to the private cloud to demonstrate its IronBridge cybersecurity platform, which extracts perfect certified entropy from quantum computers to generate unhackable cryptographic keys.   

To achieve this milestone, Cambridge Quantum will have access to one of OQC’s systems, ‘Sophia’, hosted at the company’s state-of-the-art lab in the UK. The facility, which was built last year amid the global pandemic, is the first commercial quantum computing laboratory in the country. 

Following OQC’s convention of naming its systems after women in STEM, this system is named after Sophia Jex-Blake: a British physician who led the campaign to secure women’s access to a University education when she and six other women, collectively known as the ‘Edinburgh Seven’, began illegally studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1869.  

OQC is now welcoming registrations to its beta list, for sector-leading enterprise customers looking to take advantage of the technical and commercial benefits of quantum computing.  

Ilyas Khan, CEO of Cambridge Quantum said: “We are excited to be working with OQC on their first commercially available product.  

“It has long been recognised that the first ‘killer app’ for quantum computers will be in the area of cybersecurity, and we are looking forward to demonstrating that OQC can generate verifiably quantum cryptographic keys for our IronBridge platform. 

“Ilana and her team represent the very best of breed in the hardware sector in the UK and this bold launch of a quantum processor by a company that has very much been in stealth is a reminder of the depth and diversity of the UK’s quantum technologies sector.” 

Leading quantum circuits to date have been built in a two-dimensional plane. In 2D, the intricate wiring required to control and measure the qubits — the core input-output functionality of the quantum hardware — quickly becomes a limiting factor as it introduces noise.  

Noise harms the coherence of the quantum device, which reduces the quality of its output. As the number of qubits grows, the intricacy of the wiring demands more fabrication steps, increasing error rates and cost.  

OQC’s core innovation, the Coaxmon, solves these challenges using a three-dimensional architecture that moves the control and measurement wiring out of plane and into a 3D configuration. This vastly simplifies fabrication, improving coherence and – crucially – boosting scalability. 

In the long-term, quantum could have a significant impact on businesses’ operations and on our lives, including pharmaceutical companies being able to look for ways to better predict health conditions, and identify new molecules; financial institutions getting great insight into their trading and risk management strategies; multinationals experimenting with quantum-enabled fleet logistics to optimise their supply chains and manufacturing; the advancement of more efficient and powerful energy capture and storage for the future of battery technology; the development of more powerful AI algorithms; cryptography and national security. 

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “The UK boasts some of the world’s top innovators and research institutions and this partnership helps reinforce our position as a global leader in quantum computing.  

“Quantum computing can help tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges such as climate change, and UK firms can use this cutting-edge service to boost growth and innovation.”