UPDATED 16:12 EST / NOVEMBER 19 2020

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Quantum software startup Zapata Computing reels in $38M round

Zapata Computing Inc., a Harvard spinoff working to make it easier to write software for quantum computers, today disclosed that it has closed a $38 million funding round to support research and go-to-market activities.

Comcast Ventures, Pitango and Prelude Ventures led the round. They were joined by more than a half-dozen others, including the venture capital arm of Honeywell International Inc., one of the companies currently working to develop its own quantum computing hardware. 

The quantum computers in operation today are still fairly low-powered compared to classical machines. However, it’s believed that the technology could one day unlock the ability to perform computations too complex for even the most powerful supercomputers currently in existence. As a result, some large enterprises and research institutions are already working to bring their algorithms to quantum computers, which is the task Zapata Computing hopes to ease.

The startup provides a software platform called Orquestra that reduces the amount of coding required to write programs for quantum hardware. Orquestra includes pre-packaged algorithms for tasks such as computational chemistry, related libraries from the open-source ecosystem and tools that enable developers to create their own custom components. Software teams can stitch combine these elements into programs dubbed workflows that work across multiple types of quantum computers.

Orquestra supports the on-demand quantum hardware services offered by Amazon Web Services Inc. and Microsoft Corp. via its Azure cloud. The platform also works with systems from IBM Corp., Honeywell and a growing number of other players. According to Zapata Computing, Orquestra includes optimizations that enable customers to make the most out of the underlying hardware’s computing capacity with less manual performance tweaking than the task would otherwise require. 

The startup will use the extra $38 million it now has on the books to grow the science and engineering teams in charge of developing features for Orquestra. Additionally, Zapata plans to accelerate efforts to drive customer adoption of the platform. 

Zapata has raised more than $64 million from investors to date. 

Photo: Zapata Computing

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