From Quantum Computers To Digital Security: The 30 Under 30 Asia Entrepreneurs Innovating In Enterprise Technology
Quantum computers hold great promise, as they operate much faster than conventional ones, thanks to quantum physics. The catch? They’re more error prone.
Kosuke Mitarai, an assistant professor at Osaka University’s graduate engineering school who made this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia: Enterprise Technology list, is attempting to overcome that and enable quantum computers to take off.
In 2018, while an engineering Ph.D. candidate, he cofounded quantum computing software maker QunaSys. Quantum machines will try to solve specific problems in physics and chemistry, he says, such as fully understanding how plants turn light energy into chemical energy. That could lead to efficient artificial photosynthesis, potentially enabling the transformation of carbon dioxide into fuel, Mitarai adds. To date, QunaSys has raised $12.4 million (¥1.6 billion), including from the investment arm of Japanese supercomputer maker Fujitsu.
“In five to ten years, assuming that quantum computers progress to real world use, our goal would be to become the de facto standard software and library for everyone using them.”
“In five to ten years, assuming that quantum computers progress to real world use, our goal would be to become the de facto standard software and library for everyone using them,” he says.
He’s got a track record. Mitarai released the world’s first quantum machine learning algorithm for “Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum Computers” (NISQs) to help reduce processing errors. That research has been cited nearly 550 times since 2018 – putting it in the top 1% in his field, and the Google quantum machine learning library and others have adopted its algorithm.
Elsewhere on the list, entrepreneurs are aware of AI’s potential and are using it to improve and automate processes ranging from hiring talent to customer service and in most cases, security.
One of them is Ryosuke Takahashi. He founded Acompany, a startup that develops systems to enable the processing of data while it’s still encrypted, only the second company offering such technology in Japan after telecom giant NTT. Founded in 2018 while he was still a student, Acompany initially sought to leverage blockchain technology. Since then, it has raised ￥300 million ($2.4 million) in funding, including from ANRI and DG Daiwa Ventures.
Also in Japan, Hiroki Imabayashi‘s firm Eaglys provides software to secure data by using advanced encryption technologies, enabling customers to process and use AI to analyze large amounts of data while ensuring confidentiality and compliance with privacy regulations. Founded while Imabayashi was a graduate student at Waseda University, where he earned a computer science Ph.D., the firm has raised about 1 billion ($9 million) to date, including from SBI Investment and advertising major Hakuhodo DY Holdings.
In Singapore, Zheng Wei Quah, Shaun John Cheetham, Edmund Chew and Derrick Lee cofounded Accredify in 2019. The company provides a way for organizations and individuals to issue and verify tamper-proof and traceable documents digitally. So far, the company says it has processed over 11 million verifications for 1.5 million issued documents. They also co-created Singapore’s national COVID-19 test standard, HealthCerts, with Singapore’s Ministry of Health and others. The company says it earned $500,000 last year and expects to quadruple that this year.
Another entrepreneur on the list aiming to improve security is Rick Firnando. The 29-year-old started Verihubs, an AI-based authentication and fraud prevention platform in Indonesia. It has served over 100 clients across banking, fintech and e-commerce, including Indonesia’s Bank Central Asia, Australia’s Commonwealth Bank, e-commerce firm Bukalapak and payments platform Payfazz. Verihubs claims to have helped its clients verify and authenticate over 36 million users in the past year, with its revenue growing 50 times in the same period. Firnando has raised $2.8 million in funding from Y Combinator, Insignia Venture Partners, MDI and BCA’s investment arm, CCV.
Additional reporting by James Simms.