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Honeywell spins off Minnesota-grown quantum-computing division into new company, Quantinuum

Brooks Johnson, Star Tribune on

Published in Business News

One of the world's most powerful quantum computers sits in Golden Valley, where Honeywell has spent more than a decade building what it considers the next big thing in technology.

"This is like being at the beginning of the internet, or the beginning of classical computing and Minnesota has been at the forefront," said Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell-owned Quantinuum. "We started this whole enterprise in Minnesota."

Quantinuum was formed this week with the merger of Honeywell Quantum Solutions and English software company Cambridge Quantum Computing. The new company, first announced this summer, will be headquartered in Colorado and the U.K., but maintain a 40-person workforce in Minnesota that Uttley says will continue to grow.

"There is a longstanding expertise here," he said, including at other Honeywell operations in Minnesota that manufacture "the beating heart" of the company's quantum computers.

The combined company brings together Honeywell's physical quantum computing hardware with Cambridge's applications for using this cutting-edge tech. Until recently, this all existed only in theory.

Quantum computing is heralded as revolutionary for its ability to quickly make complex calculations that would take even the most powerful supercomputer hundreds of years to perform.

 

Next year Quantinuum will launch software to "solve complex scientific problems in pharmaceuticals, material science, specialty chemicals and agrochemicals," according to the company's news release on Tuesday that revealed its new name and product offerings.

Where computers today use binary signals of 0 and 1 — bits that form electronic instructions that turn code into apps — quantum computing relies on nonbinary "qubits" that exist as both a 0 and a 1, simultaneously, to store and transfer data.

Uttley calls that property "superposition." It's like a "superpower" that allows quantum computers to quickly simulate an incredible number of combinations, for example, in manufacturing processes or molecular systems.

"The really big uses that hold promise are developing new lifesaving drugs, developing new materials used for longer-lasting batteries in vehicles, or materials that can be used to sequester carbon out of the atmosphere," he said. "These are really big humanity-level problems that quantum computers have the promise to go solve."

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