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Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Nov. 29, 2023

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Quantum computer firm IonQ to build Bothell manufacturing plant


SEATTLE — Quantum computing company IonQ is opening a new manufacturing facility in Bothell, dubbing the Seattle-area its North American production headquarters on its quest to develop a new kind of computer.

Researchers promise quantum computers will offer revolutionary increases in computing power that will open new possibilities — some that we can’t yet imagine — from accelerating the development of artificial intelligence to offering new solutions to help fight climate change.

On Friday, IonQ announced plans to open a 65,000 square foot plant in Bothell to house its manufacturing and research and development teams, as well as its quantum data center. The facility will act as IonQ’s primary production engineering location in North America and, the company says, is the first known dedicated quantum computing manufacturing facility in the United States.

“Advanced technologies like quantum computing are key to solving the world’s most pressing challenges such as climate change, energy and transportation,” said Peter Chapman, CEO and president of IonQ. “The Seattle region has been a hub of tech innovation and manufacturing for decades., … We’re excited to be among the other innovative companies who call Seattle home.”

The quantum machines use subatomic particles like electrons, instead of the streams of ones and zeros used by computers today. Doing so, quantum computers will be able to solve complex problems that would trip up today’s technology, researchers say.

Realizing the full promise of quantum computing could still be years down the line. Right now, companies and researchers are deciding the best way to structure the building blocks needed to create a quantum computer. Some rely on semiconductors, others on light, and others on previously unproven theories in physics.

IonQ, a startup founded in 2015 and based in Maryland, is competing with companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, IBM, Intel and Honeywell to be the first to develop the best type of quantum machine.

IonQ intends to invest $1 billion in the region over the next ten years and hopes to add thousands of jobs, the company said in a news release.

The new facility is slated to open in the first half of 2024. A company spokesperson declined to share how many jobs the manufacturing plant would create and financial details of the deal.

IonQ, a 200 — person company, went public through a special purpose acquisition company in October 2021. For the third quarter of 2022, the most recent financial data available, IonQ reported $2.8 million in revenue and a net loss of $24 million.

It’s not unusual for early stage tech companies to lose money while developing products, and those invested in quantum computing hope it will pay off. The companies are riding a swell of interest that could grow to $9.1 billion in revenue by 2030, according to Tractica, a market intelligence firm that studies new technologies and how humans interact with tech advancements.

“IonQ making the decision to open the first ever quantum computing manufacturing facility in the country right here in Bothell is a very big deal — and it’s great news for Washington state,” U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement. “Opening this facility will absolutely help ensure Washington state continues to be a leader in innovation and cutting-edge technologies — but it also means jobs that will be an investment in our families and their futures

IonQ has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland and has contracts with Airbus, GE, Hyundai and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.

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