IBM Algoritmiq Inc. Collaborating with startups to explore ways quantum computing can accelerate drug discovery.
The companiesannounced the collaboration today.
IBM has been conducting research aimed at building a large-scale quantum computer for years. It is believed that such a system would be able to perform calculations too complex for even the most powerful conventional supercomputers. The latest research product from IBM is the 433-qubit Osprey quantum processor, which debuted last week .
Finnish company Algorithmiq is developing a simulation platform optimized to run on quantum processors. The platform aims to help scientists accelerate research initiatives in areas such as healthcare and materials science. Algorithmic raised $4 million earlier this year from a group of investors that included Tiger Global.
As part of the partnership announced today, Algorithmiq will work with IBM to explore how quantum computing can be used for drug discovery. In particular, companies hope to develop ways to speed up the drug discovery process and reduce associated costs.
IBM and Algorithmiq will prioritize quantum chemistry as part of the research. Quantum chemistry applies the concepts of quantum mechanics to the study of molecules and matter. According to the companies, Algorithmic has already developed several algorithms that have demonstrated the potential to advance research in this area.
A major obstacle to building large-scale quantum computers is that qubits, the fundamental building blocks of quantum processors, are prone to computational errors. As a result, complex computational tasks such as molecular modeling are difficult to perform. Algorithmic says its researchers have found a way to “significantly improve” the accuracy of quantum chemistry simulations.
“Quantum computing holds the key to revolutionizing drug discovery and development,” said Sabrina Maniscalco, founder and CEO of Algorithmic.
IBM and Algorithmic plan to bring the new technology under a partnership on Kiskit’s open source software tools. A toolkit released by IBM in 2017 makes it easier for developers to write algorithms that can run on quantum processors. Kiskit also includes many pre-built quantum algorithms.
IBM is making its Quantum processors available to developers through a cloud service. Osprey’s latest quantum processor contains three times more qubits than previous generation devices. Next year, IBM plans to introduce a more advanced processor called Condor, which will have more than 1000 qubits.