Quantum computing’s powerful data analysis capabilities are poised to transform healthcare by greatly accelerating the pace of biomedical discoveries.
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Yet companies hoping to leverage this unique advanced technology can have difficulty gaining experience with quantum computing and applying it to their research and development work.
“Based on our experience, many companies are eager to experiment with quantum computing but struggle with access,” says Laura Jehi, MD, Chief Research Information Officer at Cleveland Clinic, which is home to the first quantum computer in the world dedicated to healthcare research. “There are only a few providers of the technology and access is expensive or very inefficient when free. Usage through existing vendors or other sources is for teaching or limited research applications, but not for actual transformational work.”
Cleveland Clinic intends to change that dynamic with its new Quantum Innovation Catalyzer Program, an opportunity for start-up companies in healthcare technology and life sciences to explore quantum computing applications with expert guidance.
As many as four early- and growth-stage companies will be chosen through a competitive application process to take part in the program. The participants will be able to collaborate and consult with researchers from the Cleveland Clinic-IBM Discovery Accelerator team.
The 24-week immersive experience includes dedicated access to IBM’s Quantum System One on Cleveland Clinic’s main campus to facilitate the participating companies’ research, as well as training and support from experienced investigators.
Additional features of the program:
The Quantum Innovation Catalyzer Program is part of Cleveland Clinic’s and IBM’s 10-year Discovery Accelerator partnership, which aims to significantly boost the pace of progress in biomedical research through pioneering applications of quantum and advanced computing.
The Discovery Accelerator is the technology foundation of the Cleveland Innovation District, a collaboration involving government, medical, academic and business institutions to advance healthcare and digital technology, attract and create new businesses, and train high-tech workers.
“Quantum computing is an innovative technology that offers a chance to solve intractable biomedical research problems,” Dr. Jehi says. “Through the Discovery Accelerator, Cleveland Clinic and our partners at IBM are exploring its vast potential to transform medicine, from drug discovery to digital health and biomarker analysis.”
According to Dr. Jehi, quantum computing’s healthcare and life sciences applications are in three main areas: quantum simulation for drug discovery and to understand biological models and responses for biomarker discovery; quantum machine learning to solve problems that are too computationally intensive or impractical for artificial intelligence-based approaches; and quantum optimization, which involves finding ideal solutions for the operation of complex systems, such as optimizing clinical trial protocols to accelerate the development of new therapies for patients.
Cleveland Clinic anticipated quantum computing’s potential to change the biomedical research paradigm.
Through the partnership with IBM, “we were the first to install a quantum computer on-site, in the heart of our Lerner Research Institute, which hosts 200 biomedical research labs in 400,000 square feet of research space,” Dr. Jehi says. “We also launched a new Center for Computational Life Sciences to develop and apply innovative computational tools and techniques to life sciences research.
“While others are exploring quantum computing’s applications in areas such as finance and high-energy physics, our quantum is fully dedicated to healthcare and life sciences research,” Dr. Jehi says. “This combination of focus and top-notch biomedical research expertise allowed us a unique opportunity to experiment and learn the technology with a clear eye on its potential applications in the healthcare/life sciences space.”
Participants in the Quantum Innovation Catalyzer Program will benefit from that experience.
A webinar where applicants can ask questions about the program and the application process will be held Dec. 5, 2023. Advance registration information is here. Applicants’ proposal submissions are due by Jan. 15, 2024.
The submissions will be reviewed by a committee composed of members of the quantum computing ecosystem. Applicants will be assessed based on the importance and potential near-term (2- to 3-year) impact of their proposed project and the scientific and business credibility of their start-up. “Although it is not mandatory, we will strongly favor companies who are interested in locating team members in Cleveland to join our growing Innovation District,” Dr. Jehi says.
The winning teams will be selected by March 15, 2024. The program will launch in April.
“We look forward to welcoming the first class of start-ups to our new Cleveland Clinic Quantum Innovation Catalyzer Program and helping them leverage quantum to make breakthroughs in healthcare as we grow an ecosystem of advanced computation for healthcare and life sciences,” Dr. Jehi says.