Quantum computer firm D-Wave says NEC to invest in it, help build software

SAN FRANCISCO/TOKYO (Reuters) - D-Wave Systems, a Canadian quantum computer firm backed by billionaire Jeff Bezos, Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs and others, said Japan’s NEC Corp will invest in it as part of a fundraising round and will also help it develop software.

Dan Cohrs, chief financial officer at D-Wave, told Reuters on Tuesday NEC has committed to investing $10 million in the fundraising round which could close in January. He declined to say how much D-Wave was raising and the valuation it aimed for but said some existing investors have committed to participate.

Bezos Expeditions, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ personal investment fund, In-Q-Tel, the Central Intelligence Agency’s venture capital firm, Fidelity Investments, and Goldman are among D-Wave’s investors.

Once the funding is finalized, Cohrs said NEC and D-Wave will work together to develop software and applications that can work on NEC’s supercomputers and D-Wave’s quantum computers.

An NEC spokeswoman said the company is in talks with D-Wave about the partnership, adding that the investment is subject to certain conditions.

Researchers believe quantum computers, which harness the properties of sub-atomic particles, could operate millions of times faster than today’s advanced supercomputers, making potential tasks ranging from mapping complex molecular structures and chemical reactions to boosting the power of artificial intelligence possible.

The deal with network infrastructure provider NEC could help D-Wave penetrate deeper into Japan, said Cohrs. Toyota Tsusho, Nomura Securities Co and some universities in Japan are already D-Wave clients, he said.

In the United States, Lockheed Martin and Los Alamos National Laboratory are clients and have D-Wave quantum computers installed at their research centers, Cohrs said. A third U.S. computer is at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and there are 20 quantum computers in its headquarters in Burnaby, Canada, he said.

(This story corrects names of Toyota Group unit in paragraph 7 to Toyota Tsusho from Toyota Motor).

Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee and Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman