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IBM partners with Japanese business

U.S. tech company International Business Machines Corp. launched a research collaboration with the Japanese industry on Thursday to promote developments in quantum computing, strengthening relations between the two countries in the new and critical sector.

Members of the new community, including Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., would gain cloud-based access to IBM ‘s U.S. quantum computers. The group will also have access to a quantum computer, known as IBM Q Machine One, which IBM plans to be installed in Japan in the first half of next year.

The “Quantum Innovation Project Consortium” will be located at the University of Tokyo and will also include Toyota Motor Corp., financial institutions and chemical manufacturers. It will seek to increase Japan’s quantum capacity base and allow businesses to build technology uses.

It follows an agreement between IBM and the university, signed late last year, on more collaboration in quantum computing, which carries the possibility of replacing today’s supercomputers by leveraging the properties of sub-atomic particles.

The collaboration comes as the United States and its allies engage with China in the race to develop quantum technologies that could drive advancements in artificial intelligence, materials science and chemistry.

Last September, IBM said it would bring a quantum computer to Germany and partner with an applied research institute there. 

IBM is looking at at least doubling the capacity of its quantum computers next year and aims to see its system becoming a service-promoting operation of companies behind the scenes. 

Quantum computers rely on superconductivity, which can only be done at temperatures near to absolute zero, rendering the construction of practical devices a daunting technological challenge.