April 18, 2024 10:47 am

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Snohomish County on its way to becoming the ‘Quantum Valley’ of the West

BOTHELL—Maryland-based quantum computing company IonQ celebrated the grand opening of its new 105,000 square foot building in Bothell on Thursday, February 15. This is the very first known dedicated quantum computing manufacturing facility in the United States and the latest, and greatest, next chapter for Snohomish County innovation and industry.

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The ribbon cutting at IonQ’s Grand Opening Ceremony on February 15, 2024. (L-R) Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, Jungsang Kim, co-founder of IonQ, Peter Champan, CEO of IonQ, Senator Maria Cantwell, and Rima Alameddine, Chief Revenue Officer for IonQ. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

The new facility will house IonQ’s growing R&D manufacturing teams where about 80 employees are currently working as of now. Bothell was the chosen location of the company’s West Coast expansion due to its proximity to several software, aerospace, and tech companies that could utilize its services.

“The Seattle area obviously has a huge history of leadership in classical computing, with companies like Microsoft, and Amazon, but also Boeing and many others. So, it has a great DNA for technology but also manufacturing,” said Peter Champan, IonQ CEO.  “That’s really the two things that we pull into manufacturing quantum computers. It’s great to have a highly skilled and highly educated work force to pull from.”

The State of Washington has the highest state concentration of tech workers in the country with about 350,000 jobs as of 2023, according to Sen. Maria Cantwell’s Office. The state also employs the highest number of people in emerging technology jobs such as artificial intelligence and quantum. Just recently GeekWire reported that Seattle was found to be the top city in the country for hiring elite software engineers, and one of the top cities in the world for this level of talent.

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Two of IonQ’s products on display for the company’s Grand Opening Ceremony on February 15, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

IonQ is a leader in quantum computing with the mission statement “to build the world’s best quantum computers to solve the world’s most complex problems.” Quantum computers are a revolutionary technology that has the potential to change how many businesses – including artificial intelligence, security, pharmaceutical companies, aerospace, and more – conduct its operations.

Unlike a conventional computer, which uses binary bits (typically ones and zeros) as its unit of information, quantum computers operate at a subatomic level, trapping atoms out of the atmosphere and, with specialized lasers, manipulates particles (such as photons and electrons) to use what’s called a quantum bit (or qubit) to allow the particles to exist in more than one state at one time. What this means for computer performance is essentially an upgrade in every way from data to performance time, to solving complex problems.

While quantum computing is a still-developing technology, if successful, this enormous amount of information can help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, from fighting diseases to developing better sustainable energy.

At Thursday’s ceremony Senator Maria Cantwell, a lead negotiator behind the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act and chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, took to the podium to share a few words before several teams were led through the facility to see firsthand how these miraculous machines are made.

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Senator Maria Cantwell (center-left) and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers (second from left) at the IonQ’s Grand Opening Ceremony on February 15, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

“The quantum computing industry has the potential to add thousands of new jobs here in the Pacific Northwest — jobs at all skill levels, from technicians to software developers,” said Sen. Cantwell. “Our region is already known worldwide for our innovation and leadership. And this facility will continue to build on that… We are becoming the ‘Quantum Valley,’ if you will, of the United States.”

Sen. Cantwell has been working hard to help industry and academia translate ideas developed in a lab into products and solutions for the American people. She helped authorize $20 billion for a new Tech Directorate program at the National Science Foundation to focus on translational science in 10 key developing areas, including quantum technology.

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Outside of IonQ’s Bothell location. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

Also in attendance at Thursday’s event was Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, members of the Swiss embassy, and officials representing Microsoft and Amazon.

IonQ has pumped in around $20 million to its Bothell facility to upgrade its infrastructure within the last year. As of now, half of the building—it’s lower level—has been fully completed and is already undergoing manufacturing with the other half still under construction. Once completed the company will have gone from 6,500 square feet, working with just a handful of employees, to over 100,000 square feet with eventual plans to bring its data center from Maryland to Bothell in Snohomish County.

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Co-founder of IonQ, Jungsang Kim, at the company’s Grand Opening Ceremony on February 15, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

Founded in 2015 by quantum physicists Chris Monroe and Jungsang Kim, after 25 years of academic research and $1 million in seed funds from New Enterprise Associate, IonQ was able to raise $20 million from GV, Amazon Web Services, and NEA to build two of the world’s most accurate quantum computers. In 2019 the company began offering their quantum computers available via the cloud, through a partnership with Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.

In 2020 and 2021, IonQ built additional generations of high-performance quantum hardware, added Google Cloud Marketplace to its cloud partner roster and announced a series of collaborations and business partnerships with leading academic and commercial institutions.

On October 1st, 2021, IonQ began trading as IONQ on the New York Stock Exchange, making it the world’s first public pure-play quantum computing company.

Its quantum computer products include the Forte Enterprise, the Forte, the IonQ Aria, the IonQ Harmony, and the still in development AQ 64 IonQ Tempo which will have faster gate speeds, mid-circuit measurement, and 99.9% fidelity, all helping to unlock larger and more complex problem classes and deliver a faster time-to-solution, the company says.

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Peter Champan, CEO of IonQ, sharing remarks at the company’s Grand Opening Ceremony on February 15, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

Peter Champan, CEO of IonQ, shared that in the upcoming year, IonQ will have invested close to $80 million into the Seattle area which will hit close to the company’s promise of investing $1 billion over the next 10 years.

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