Alexei Marchenkov founded Bleximo in early 2017 with one ambitious goal: to introduce quantum computing to solving real-world applications that are too complex for conventional computing systems. Now, the Berkeley-based company, a Graduate of the Silicon Valley Founder Institute, has raised $1.5M in a seed round led by Eniac Ventures. Other investors in the round include Boost VC, Creative Ventures, KEC Ventures, and Gyan Kapur. According to Vic Singh, founding general partner at Eniac Ventures:
At Eniac, we believe general quantum computing is still far away, but Bleximo’s approach of building vertical quantum computing architecture will bring this nascent technology to the mainstream in a more practical way — much like vertical AI is here today before general AI. We are excited to support founder Alexei Marchenkov, a recognized expert in quantum computing, and the Bleximo team to help build this reality.
Alexei Marchenkov is a quantum physicist with a PhD in low-temperature physics from Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is a recipient of the prestigious Cyclotron Road fellowship, awarded to leading scientist-entrepreneurs who are pursuing disruptive technologies in resource and energy intensive industries. The fellowship includes two years embedded within the Berkeley startup ecosystem, including unencumbered access to world-class laboratory space and research equipment at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley.
After a postdoctoral appointment at UC Berkeley, Alexei was an Assistant and Associate Professor of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2004, he received the US National Science Foundation’s Early Career Development fellowship. His research focused on quantum behavior in materials and nanoscale structures, including graphene, atomic-sized superconducting wires and contacts, and superconducting quantum bits (qubits).
Before founding Bleximo, Marchenkov worked at Rigetti Computing, where he worked on developing the company’s technology for general-purpose quantum computers. Analogous to the differences in scope and emergence between a truly general A.I. and specialized A.I., Machenkov today believes that ‘general’ quantum computing is still relatively far off. Instead, Bleximo specialized quantum co-processors that utilize quantum computing working in coordination with conventional computing.
Classical computing uses the binary system of 0s and 1s to encode information; but quantum computers exploit a phenomenon of quantum mechanics known as superposition, where a particle can simultaneously exist in two states at once: 0, or 1, or both 0 and 1. This allows qubits (the special quantum bit components incorporated into emerging quantum and hybridized computer chips) to work by crunching numbers in ways that classical computers simply cannot do.
Bleximo is building what it calls ‘quantum accelerators’ — quantum-based and application-specific integrated circuits. The types of complex challenges that Bleximo’s quantum accelerators will aim solve include speeding up the of modeling electronic and chemical properties for developing new materials and molecules - for pharmaceutical discovery and drug development, for example - though the company argues that its technology is just as applicable to solving complex problems in energy, finance, manufacturing, and security.
Bleximo’s immediate advantage lies in the fact that its hybridized quantum chips will not require the large numbers of qubits with long coherence times that a general-purpose quantum computer would need. According to Marchenkov:
Present day superconducting technology allows building near-term quantum processors containing several tens to several hundred qubits and limited error correction. These small-scale quantum processors may be utilized in calculations, which follow a hybrid quantum/classical approach: they will complement conventional high performance computing systems and enable running quantum routines inside of existing computational workflows.
Rather than replacing classical high-performance computing systems, Bleximo is building quantum accelerators as complementary specialty-purpose quantum computation systems that will run in parallel with classical computers. The company will initially focus on building quantum accelerators for simulating the structure and properties of molecules and chemical reactions. By modeling the behavior of certain molecules, Bleximo will help optimize drug discovery and design for pharmaceutical applications, a $75 billion industry.
In the near future, Bleximo believes the same technologies hold the promise of tackling complex systems modeling, optimization, and machine learning across many more industries, including security, defense, biomedical, health, finance, e-commerce, surveillance, energy, and artificial intelligence. As quantum physics emerges into its own here in the early 21st century, keep an eye on the leading edge companies like Bleximo that will be first to bring these theoretical technologies into solving real world problems in complex information applications.