Explainer: Canada’s move towards quantum computing technology

The fame and success of this science is quickly growing one qubit at a time

Art by Kristen Frier

Art by Kristen Frier

Canada is currently on the pulse of quantum computing with its own host of researchers, workers, and businesses already invested in this newest invention. The domestic popularity of this science is due to its endless applications for health, the environment, and other areas of Canadian society. To compete internationally, Canada plans to continue funding companies working on quantum tech. 

Quantum computing is applied to supercomputers that use quantum science to solve problems too complex for today’s computers. This technology achieves this feat with entities called quantum digits, or qubits, that go beyond the binary code of ones and zeros from current software. With these qubits, quantum computing can wield more processing power to find solutions faster. 

Toronto startup Xanadu Quantum Technologies Inc. recently received an additional $40 million from the federal government to build and commercialize a quantum computing project, according to a press release. Xanadu’s initiative is worth nearly $180 million in funding provided by Canada’s agency, the Strategic Innovation Fund, with potential to produce 530 quantum-related jobs. 

“Quantum technology is changing the world as we know it. With the potential to solve difficult problems in key areas such as health care, finance, and climate sciences, this sector expands the realm of possibility. Today’s announcement is great news for Canadian workers and businesses,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quoted in the press release.

In a 2022 study, the National Research Council of Canada predicted that Canada would add more than 1,000 jobs and earn nearly $190 million by 2025 for quantum science. The year 2045 is anticipated to see larger projections with the quantum industry being worth nearly $140 billion, a job increase to over 200,000, and earnings of over $40 billion. 

To prepare for this future economic growth, Canada formed a budget two years ago that included a seven-year investment plan of $360 million for a National Quantum Strategy (NQS), which aims to expand Canada’s research, technologies, companies, talent, and to establish its role as a global leader for this tech. 

Canada made further preparations through roundtables about the NQS with businesses, universities, and other key stakeholders specializing in quantum science in 2021. They unpacked topics related to research, commercialization, and talent along with security and international matters. 

Roundtables, surveys, and emails provided a vast array of feedback regarding Canada’s NQS at the time. Views ranged from prioritizing local and foreign talent recruitment to concerns that current funding might not even be enough to compete with other countries. 

CBC reported that while Canada is on the forefront, quantum computing has rapidly become a highly desired technology in the global tech space. Other countries like China, the U.K., and the European Union are already competing for this commodity. American tech giants like IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have also joined the competition. 

Despite worldwide rivalries, post-secondary schools across Canada are working on quantum technology through student research programs. There are also several Canadian tech companies devoted to quantum science currently available for students to join after graduation.