It seems that there is no greater gap between the potential of quantum computing and the revolutions it may bring about and what most people understand about the field and technology. In recent years, Israel has joined the quantum race with a number of startups in the various software fields as well as a new governmental program to promote the field. One of such startups that stands out in the field is Classiq.
"Israel is not expected to be a global leader in the field of quantum hardware"
Classiq is developing a platform that will enable the development of quantum algorithms in a new way. It is the first company to develop the essential tools for automatically translating human ideas into quantum circuits and to provide the basic elements required to create quantum algorithms. "Today, quantum software development is limited to the level of logic gates. The software developer needs to know exactly which gates to apply to which qubits. And this is a reasonable task for single qubits but very difficult for tens of qubits, and impossible for hundreds, thousands, and millions of qubits. This is simply too difficult a design problem,'' explained Nir Minerbi, CEO of Classiq, in a conversation with Geektime.
"Classiq builds a modelling language for quantum circuits (i.e., quantum software) and the synthesis tool that produces the complex circuit, which can be run on any quantum hardware," said Minerbi. In practice, hardware modelling languagessuch as VHDL and synthesis tools such as Cadence and Synopsys enable the same functional model conversions into a complex circuit at the gate level. ''In quantum computing, the gates are the software, not the hardware. Therefore, the company that will truly be the Cadence of quantum computing will also be the Microsoft of quantum computing. That's where we're going,'' he explained.
The platform they created makes it possible to develop software for quantum computers of various types, and users can run it with the click of a button on the quantum cloud of various companies – Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, etc. Today, these computers are on the scale of dozens of qubits and can run software of this magnitude on them and make sure they know how to scale. In addition, Classiq works to allow developers to analyze the software they have developed, debug it, and make sure it is scalable.
You are taking an active part in bringing the State of Israel into the quantum era. Where do we stand as a nation? Are we behind or ahead of the world?
"We were chosen to lead the construction of the quantum software stack of the Israeli quantum computer. This is a large-scale project whose goal is to build the software infrastructure that will allow optimal access and operation of the quantum computers that will be built/purchased as part of the national program, as well as their accessibility to all end users in Israel and the world. Another aspect, even more important, in which we take an active and practically exclusive part, is building an ecosystem of end users, both industrial and academic. In the end, for better or for worse, Israel is not expected to lead on a global level in the field of hardware, that is, building the first (or fifth...) quantum computer that will change the world. On the other hand, Israel can and must be at the forefront of the end users who develop industrial and scientific applications that will make use of these computers, and this is the goal that guides us in our local activities.''
Expanding a financing round
Today (Tuesday) the company announced the expansion of their Series B fundraising round from $35 to $49 million. The expansion round was led by Awz Ventures. The original round completed last February was led by HPE, Fenix, Spike Ventures and Samsung Next. Those who also participated in the round are the former CEO of Cadence and the former CEO of Synopsys, Eitan Naor from IN Venture, alongside Team8, Wing Capital, Entree and OurCrowd. To date, the company has raised $63 million.
We are in a challenging period of uncertainty for many startups as VC funds think twice before making investments. And here you present a technology that is partly theoretical, expensive, and far from being implemented. Were you afraid of rejection this round? Were there any firms that told you to talk to them in a few years once it was more developed?
"In the current situation, the bet is no longer on the company, but on the quantum computing market. It is enough for us that one of the technology giants advances in the hardware race, and we are in a position to be the Microsoft of a new and ground-breaking computing world. We are of course not arrogant or immune to the crisis. The company works with a conservative runway that takes into account the uncertainty about the timing of this breakthrough in the quantum computing market; the current recruitment will be used to create a significant runway, as well as for strategic moves that will establish our leading position.''