World Fund, a newcomer to climate VC country, is leading the way in a $128 million round for IQM, in hopes that the Finnish quantum computing company will one day cut CO2 emissions by megatons.
Quantum computing trades the bits of conventional computers for quantum bits, and in theory quantum machines may be better suited to solving some very complex problems in fields such as chemistry and machine learning. IQM states its technology could also change the climate, but there is reason to be generally skeptical of the industry; we’ve seen a lot of hype around quantum computing startups, and yet the field is mostly stuck in labs these days.
Still, IQM expects its quantum computers to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next three to five years “for some of the early use cases.” The company says yes already “working on new approaches to develop better battery solutions with a leading automaker”, and it plans to devote its new funds to further research in battery technology, quantum chemistry and other fields. IQM warned in an email to MovieUpdates that: “Scientific breakthroughs don’t follow a fixed timeline.”
The idea of applying quantum technology to combating climate change is apparently not that far-fetched. Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich said in an email to MovieUpdates that he “[believes] quantum computing can help with climate change, especially with the challenge of carbon capture (carbon fixation).” Microsoft’s research involves digging into how quantum computing can discover “more efficient” ways to convert carbon dioxide into other chemical compounds.
World Fund and IQM’s other investors have also implicitly endorsed the idea through their checkbooks. In a statement, the German VC said it will only support technology with the potential to “remove “100 million tons” – i.e. 100 megatons – of carbon from the atmosphere by 2040. Other investors in the latest round include the EU’s European Innovation Council and Tencent. The deal brings IQM’s post-money valuation close to $1 billion, a person familiar with the matter told MovieUpdates.
Some quantum computer companies have been accused of exaggerating their progress. Maryland-based IonQ has discussed its advances in quantum computing, but activist investor Scorpion Capital recently accused the company of fraud, calling its technology a “useless toy that can’t even add 1+1.” The founders of IonQ dismissed the allegations, saying they were “amused by the extreme level of ignorance behind this attack.” In a related area, former employees of British quantum encryption company Arqit reportedly questioned the usefulness and maturity of its quantum technology.