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Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum Computing to combine

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Tony Uttley, President of Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Ilyas Khan, Cambridge Quantum Computing CEO, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the merging of their companies and the future of quantum computing.

Video Transcript

- Move over, IBM. See you later, China. Honeywell's quantum computing team, along with Cambridge Computing-- Cambridge Quantum Computing are forming a new company. It was announced just about a week ago. And joining us right now, Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions, and Ilyas Khan, Cambridge Quantum Computing CEO. Thank you both for joining us.

And Ilyas, let me start with you, because the new company that's going to be formed, a lot of us, when you say quantum computing, really have no clue what that means. So I know that you're a leader in this, as is Honeywell. But how do investors want to view this, and what do you do with the quantum computing that you're going to be bringing to power?

ILYAS KHAN: Well, the best way-- thank you for having us on the show. The best way to think about quantum computing, actually the simplest way is to imagine a reality which is that Moore's law is shuddering to a halt. And ultimately, we have to find a new way. And that new way is quantum computing because the size of the equivalent of what we call transistors or bits-- and in quantum computing, we call them qubits, quantum bits-- are such small, infinitesimal things like electrons and photons that the rules that govern them change. So we're going all the way across Moore's law, and now we're dealing with things like single electrons which carry information.

- And Tony, Honeywell has a majority stake in this company, investing up to $300 million, I believe, in the business. Talk to us just about where you think we are in quantum computing. Are we still in the early stages? And why do you think Honeywell has placed such an emphasis on this?

TONY UTTLEY: Yeah, no, we're really at what I call the emergent era of quantum computing, which is-- it's pretty cool to think about, but it's a time where quantum computers didn't exist, and now they exist. So that's a pretty profound moment, where you can actually do real quantum computing and get quantum results.

This was a long-term strategy for Honeywell. We've been doing this for about a decade now. And it really came about as we pulled technologies from across our various portfolio, things that had to do with lasers and optics, things that had to do with microelectronics, ultra-high-vacuum systems, RF systems, cryogenics. And we looked forward and said, we're in businesses that are going to be profoundly impacted by quantum computing-- our chemicals business, our process controls business, our aerospace business-- and we believe that we could bring this technology together and develop a generation of the highest performing quantum computers in the world.

- So when a lot of us hear Honeywell, we think hardware. With Cambridge Quantum Computing, I would imagine software. And one of the things you talked about in the press release is that the future will be hardware-agnostic, which I guess means it doesn't matter what kind of hardware you've got, your-- this new quantum computing company will be accessible to people. And as Tony just said, Ilyas, in the cloud. So will I, as just an average person, be interfacing at some point in the future with a quantum computer, and not even know it?

ILYAS KHAN: Oh, for sure. Yes. In fact, the platform-agnosticity that you've just mentioned is a reality today. The products that we have as a joint merged entity can be run off any quantum computer. And then, to your point specifically, you might not know that you're interacting with it, but in quarter four this year, we, the merged entity, will be launching a cybersecurity product which is generated from a quantum computer, and likely to be used in everyday roles because those keys are literally unhackable. The world needs this. We need this. And that is one of the first products where, without knowing you're interacting, you will be interacting.

- And Tony, you mentioned that we're still in the early stages of this, and the growth potential is huge. I'm curious what the reception has been like. And is it tough to bring on customers and really sell them on the importance of quantum computing at this stage, when it's not nearly as widely adaptable as it will be, it sounds like, several years from now?

TONY UTTLEY: Yeah. We've-- first, it kind of breaks apart into a couple different buckets. We have customers that are very forward-leaning in their industry. And those companies know, just like Honeywell did, how profoundly their businesses could be impacted. And they want to be first in line. And in fact, they've built up their own experts to be able to use quantum computers. As you might imagine, there aren't a lot of people on the planet who know how to program a quantum computer. So if you've already built a team that can go do that, you are at the front runners of the entire quantum computing industry.

We also had companies that were coming directly to Honeywell to ask to invest in Honeywell Quantum Solutions directly. And it became this combination of what you could go do with this combination entity of the world's best software combined with the world's best hardware, and where you could take that and how fast could you accelerate true, applied use of quantum computing, that became such a great idea.

- Tony Uttley is president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions. Ilyas Khan is Cambridge Quantum Computing CEO. Please come back when the new company is not only named, but launched.