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Canadian QC Startup Agnostiq Building Privacy Solutions For The Future

agnostiq quantum
agnostiq quantum

Time & A Headache 

Polymorphic Viruses. Macro Viruses. Rootkit and blah blah blah. Doesn’t matter what you call them, or how they affect your data, they’re a monster pain in the ass that can cost individuals time and a headache.

And businesses, well, a lot of greenbacks.

We all know data is king these days. Like any monarch, it’s gotta be protected from all sorts of malware and spying.

‘Without the protective shield of encryption, a quantum computer in the hands of a malicious actor could launch a cyberattack unlike anything we’ve ever seen.’

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— Rodney Joffe, Vice-President and Senior Technologist at NeuStar

The above quote is not science fiction. It’s the future reality. Any potential Adrian Lamo or Gary McKinnon with malicious intentions and enough knowledge on the emerging technology of quantum algorithms will be able to do it, easily.

As technology shifts from classical models to more modern systems based on AI, machine learning (ML) and quantum information science, the case to step up all the protection becomes more obvious.

So it’s good to know there are companies around that have our backs.

Agnostiq is one such example.


Co-founded by CEO and physicist Oktay Goktas, COO Elliot MacGowan and CTO Edwin Tham back in 2018, the three aim to build a company at the forefront of privacy solutions for companies using quantum computers.

Agnostiq’s ultimate goal is to build powerful security software designed to work on noisy intermediate-scale quantum computers, that’s NISQ for short.

Goktas, who has a Ph.D. from the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, in Stuttgart Germany, has co-authored 13 papers with titles ranging from ‘Finite-bias visibility dependence in an electronic Mach-Zehnder interferometer to ‘Benchmarking quantum processors with a single qubit’. Furthermore, he has been — as of January 2020 according to Google Scholar — cited 182 times.

In September of last year, the startup was accepted into The Fields Institute Centre for Quantitative Analysis and Modelling’s incubator program (Fields-CQAM) for 2019–2020.

We build our solutions with today’s quantum hardware in mind, recognizing that qubits are in short supply. That’s why we allow users to keep overheads to a minimum by providing them with the option to dial them up (or down) for increased (or decreased) security. This dial allows users to increase security as the hardware scales

Agnostiq website

This lends credence to how valued in the Canadian quantum information science ecosystem the startup is.

Agnostiq, then, is similar to other startups and public companies in the QC space which are focused on the cybersecurity aspects of the industry. Examples of these are Crypto Quantique, CryptoNext Security, evolutionQ, ID Quantique, KETS Quantum Security, MagiQ, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp, Nu Quantum, Oki Electric Industry Company, Post-Quantum, Qasky, Qrypt, Quantum Impenetrable, Qunnect LLC, QuNu Labs, QuSecure, SpeQtral, QuintessenceLabs, Spin Quantum Tech, SK Telecom, Raytheon BBN Technologies, Toshiba Corp, and Universal Quantum Devices. These firms are hoping that as QC gains more acceptance from the wider business community, the mass adoption of its architectural solutions will occur.

Knowledge of funding on the startup is sparse. Crunchbase’s data states Agnostiq raised ‘an undisclosed amount/non Equity Assistance from Creative Destruction Lab in August 2018 followed by a Convertible Note’ a month later.

‘Today, data breaches occur outside of cryptography, and the costs of those breaches is growing… A complete break of public-key cryptography is unprecedented. In our connected world, everything that protects data, authorizes or authenticates must be updated to be quantum-safe. This magnitude of change has never been required on such a large scale.’

Mike Brown, CTO & Co-founder, ISARA Corporation




James Dargan

James Dargan is a writer and researcher at The Quantum Insider. His focus is on the QC startup ecosystem and he writes articles on the space that have a tone accessible to the average reader.

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