The Race for Quantum Computing Supremacy

Quantum computers are set to help us solve humanity’s most complex challenges, which our existing computers can't even scratch the surface of. Universities, researchers, and Silicon Valley companies are all entangled in quantum computing, proving there’s massive interest in the research and development of these groundbreaking machines. In fact, just recently Google claimed to have built the first quantum computer that can carry out calculations beyond the ability of today’s most powerful supercomputers, a landmark moment that has been hotly anticipated by researchers. Google says that its 54-qubit Sycamore processor was able to perform a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years. However it’s not just Google; IBM, Microsoft, Intel and others are all looking at how to advance the technology. But which companies are working the hardest with the most patent applications and has there been an increase in interest over the years? We’ve analysed over 5,000 patent applications to find out. 

Quantum computing infographic

Patenting activities in the quantum computing sector have rapidly expanded in recent years. As we can see from the graphs and data above, there has been a steady increase in the number of patent applications over the past 10 years, going from 12 applications in 1998 to 558 in 2018. When it comes to the companies leading the way in patent application filings, we can see that Microsoft is racing ahead with 425 applications. Other notable companies include IBM, with 296 patents and Intel with 242. Despite this, there are still some formidable hurdles to overcome before quantum computers become commonplace. But with tech firms investing heavily in the field – about $1bn (£780m) to date, and with more in the pipeline – many researchers are now confident that quantum supremacy will be a landmark for computing in the not too distant future.

You can find our data and sources here.