"We've reached a point where we can move from mathematical modelling and theory to applied engineering for significant scale-up," he said.
The commercial opportunity for the first quantum computing provider is significant.
The nature of quantum systems means huge volumes of calculations can be performed in parallel and simultaneously. For certain problems quantum computers promise to completely out-perform the most powerful classical computers.
"Creating a useful, scalable quantum computer is one of the greatest scientific challenges facing mankind. It also presents one of our greatest opportunities. This dramatically expanded spectrum of what we can achieve through computing would set the stage for an entirely new era of human innovation that will usher in a societally transformative 'quantum economy'," Microsoft said in a statement.
And who will lead that new economy? Pritchard is confident: "You see Microsoft spending a significant investment on it. You see Google and IBM, you see governments like China investing. The EU has this one billion euro grand challenge. So somebody's going to crack it. Somebody's going to make it happen and I think it's going to be us."
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