British startup Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC) has launched what it claims is the UK’s first homegrown Quantum Computing as-a-Service (QCaaS) platform.

The aim is to make “the UK’s only quantum computer” – more accurately, the first built in the UK with proprietary technology – accessible on demand via a private cloud to strategic partners and large enterprises, so they can explore the potential of quantum applications.

OQC’s Coaxmon system uses a 3D architecture that the company says simplifies fabrication, improves coherence, and boosts scalability.

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

“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.”

According to an announcement this week, the first company to access the platform will be 2014 start-up and varsity ally Cambridge Quantum Computing (aka Cambridge Quantum) which recently joined forces with Honeywell Quantum to develop new quantum applications.

Cambridge Quantum has presences in the US, Europe, and Japan, and employs more than 60 scientists, including 35 PhDs in quantum technology, chemistry, molecular electronics, physics, maths, computer science, and nanoscience – all areas where quantum computing will have new applications.

That company will access OQC’s QCaaS platform to demonstrate its own IronBridge quantum cybersecurity platform. 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.”

In an interview with this journalist in April, Khan explained more about the unique potential of quantum systems.

“If I said, ‘What is the perfect random sequence?’ You could spend billions or trillions of dollars and come up with some fancy algorithm with supercomputers, and pull it all together, but it would not match Mother Nature in giving you randomness,” he explained.

“A fundamental law of quantum mechanics allows you to extract from Mother Nature strings of randomness that will never be repeated, with no pattern. What we’ve done at Cambridge Quantum is find a way of extracting from the data, in a commercial and viable manner, randomness, if you like, rather than entropy, which is certifiably quantum and therefore maximally random. We can then package that – though these things are very hard to do, they’re not trivial.

“So, this is one area where we can do things which classical computers cannot do. This is not a computable exercise, it’s not like data science or machine learning. It is using a quantum computer to do something which otherwise could not be done. The use cases are, as you can imagine, cryptography and cybersecurity.”

US giant IBM launched an experimental quantum processor in the cloud in 2016 and is among the companies to have ramped up its quantum offerings since then in this nascent, but potentially vast market.

Computing is not the only quantum innovation: other companies are developing quantum sensors, timing, communications, and more.