Sunday, June 24

After AI startup success in Canada, CDL bets on quantum tech

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Creative Destruction Labs is expecting big things from its quantum machine learning startup program, the first of its kind in the world.

By 2022 the QML Program wants to produce more well- capitalized, revenue generating quantum machine learning software companies than the rest of the world combined. The majority of these will be based in Canada, CDL said in a statement.

QML uses quantum technologies to boost the speed and performance of machine learning algorithms.

In Q2 2017, the program started with a partnership with D-Wave Systems, which agreed to provide training and access to its state-of-the-art quantum system.

This made CDL the first in the world to give start-ups access to the D-Wave machine, which was already being used by Google, NASA, and Lockheed Martin.


Read MarketBrains’ interview with D-Wave’s CEO


The next partnership was with Rigetti Computing, a US-based quantum computing company. Like D-Wave, Rigetti opened its cloud-based quantum system to CDL start-ups.

The year-long quantum machine learning program accepted 40 start-ups in September 2017. Three Silicon Valley venture capital firms with extensive portfolios of AI investments – namely Bloomberg Beta, Data Collective, and Spectrum 28 – pledged to invest US$80,000 in every company that made it into the program.

In Ontario alone, a “Quantum Valley” has been in the making over the last 10 years, with the University of Waterloo’s Perimeter Institute and Institute for Quantum Computing.

The 40 quantum physicists who joined CDL last September formed 21 start-ups and raised $80,000 each in pre-seed funding.

“All of the companies coming to this program will have first-mover advantage,” said Daniel Mulet, associate director at CDL who focuses on quantum machine learning startups, in a statement from the Ontario government.

“Venture capital and the leading minds in quantum science and AI are coming to Toronto from around the world to meet with start-ups at CDL,” added CDL executive director Sonia Sennik. “At this early stage of the technologies’ development, that is perhaps the strongest market signal possible that the companies at CDL are globally competitive.”


Check out MarketBrains’ coverage of quantum technologies in finance


CDL is the brainchild of Ajay Agrawal, a professor of entrepreneurship at Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, and co-founder of Next 36 and Next AI, accelerator programs for young entrepreneurs, with the latter focused on artificial intelligence-enabled startups.

In 2015, it introduced its AI stream – the first in the world to focus exclusively on start-ups driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning.

To date, CDL has accepted 500 companies into its programs. Many of the scientists behind these start-ups hail from Canada, but increasingly the lab is seeing participants from other countries, with some coming from as far as Australia and Israel.

The program launched with seven entrepreneurs, including Dennis Bennie, co-founder of Delrina Corporation which sold to Symantec; John Francis, former president and CEO of Trader Media Corporation which sold to Yellow Media; Lee Lau, co-founder of ATI Technologies which sold to Advanced Micro Devices for $5.4 billion, and brothers Michael and Richard Hyatt, who sold their Ontario company BlueCat Networks, to Madison Dearborn Partners for $400 million.


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