Four Questions for Founders | SeeQC

By Newlab / November 26, 2019
SeeQC co-founders John Levy and Oleg Mukhanov


1. Why did you start SeeQC? Do you remember the moment when you first thought of the idea?

My co-founder, Oleg Mukhanov, and I have been working together for the past 9 years since we were both at Hypres where he was the CTO and I was the Executive Chair. We worked on a strategic plan about 3 years ago during which we identified the opportunity to spin out a new company focused entirely on high performance computing.  Our original idea was to focus on cryogenic, superconductive electronics to greatly speed up hyper data centers with massively faster processors, but during that time we began to understand how we could channel our chip design, manufacturing and IP to work in both the classical as well as quantum domains. This led us to form Seeqc, as a spinout, around the concept of hybrid quantum/classical systems.  We then met our third co-founder, Matt Hutchings, who had just helped to design one of the first qubit modules to run an algorithm. The three of us formed a great founding team with Oleg’s experience in chip design, manufacturing, and system integration with Matt’s quantum technology guided by my entrepreneurial experience.

2. How do you see SeeQC impacting how we live our lives?

Richard Feynman, one of the great physicists of the 20th century, once said, “…nature isn’t classical, dammit. And if you want to make a simulation of nature, you’d better make it quantum mechanical”, meaning that if we want to better understand the world we live in, we’d be advised to build technology that can help us build models that more closely correspond to nature’s underlying structure.  This idea extends to nearly any quantum system we can think about such as climate, the human body, organic materials and nearly any system that involves large numbers of variables that can be optimized. So, for instance, image being able to build a climate model that incorporates 10’s if not 100’s of thousands of variables. Such a model could examine all of the interactions and combinations of those variables, something that is practically impossible even with today’s most powerful supercomputers, even if they could work for 100,000’s of years (which was the point of Google’s most recent quantum supremacy work).  If we are going to advance as a civilization, we need new tools like quantum computing to help us navigate our world. 

3. How have New York and New Lab positively impacted the development of your business?

New York is the home to major industries like pharmaceuticals, material sciences, financial services and, increasingly, technology companies, all of which are either potential customers or contributors to the quantum economy.  At New Lab, we’ve participated in two major events highlighting the work that’s being pursued within the quantum computing arena, most recently at the IBM-sponsored NY Quantum Summit where we were able to pitch potential financial and strategic investors and to meet engineers who have an interest in quantum computing.

4. What’s the message you want to send to people about the power of technology? 

Quantum computing is in its earliest phases of development, and we have the unique opportunity to make it available to as many people as possible.  Today, you can log onto IBM Q’s website and play with a real, functional quantum computer. Students and engineers are free to experiment at this early date, you just need a computer connected to a network and voila, you have access to a quantum computer.  Going forward, the potential power of quantum technology will again challenge our current understanding of how technology can and will be used in the future, and it will be incumbent on all of us who are working in this area to anticipate these changes. We will need to be as thoughtful, transparent and inclusive as we can while we develop these amazing tools to ensure they are used for the best possible purposes in the most responsible manner.

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