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NGQ: A Fortuitous Partnership Leads to Quantum Innovation

NexGen Quantum (NGQ) is a rising startup with strong NY I-Corps Hub heritage and ongoing ties to CUNY in quantum communications—a breakthrough technology that has the potential to be part of the future of computing. Co-founded by Dr. German Kolmakov, NGQ’s CTO and chair of the Physics department at the New York City College of Technology (City Tech), and Shaina Raklyar, CEO of NGQ and a former doctoral student at City Tech, the company seeks to link multiple quantum computers into one network for data centers and tech companies. NGQ hopes to accelerate computation speeds by a million times, with a significant reduction in energy use.

NGQ is seeking a patent for its technology that would create a quantum interconnect enabling the coupling of existing internet/data transfer telecom lines with quantum encryption/computing hardware. The company is now developing a prototype for testing by US quantum computing companies. Until now, the absence of this quantum interconnect has been a significant obstacle to the deploying of quantum computing.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that quantum will change the world, how it operates, and how technology operates, said Dr. Kolmakov. “Our current computers are going to be obsolete, and quantum is the only way for computers to continue to improve.”

Raklyar added, “What quantum will do is like the world before the PC and the world after.”

Kolmakov and Raklyar first met when Raklyar held an internship in the Physics department, and the professor and student determined there was a tremendous opportunity within their research. As NexGen Quantum, they participated in the regional NY I-Corps in Winter 2019, and then went on to participate in national I-Corps.

“At that time, we did not have a product but a technology—we were more focused on pure science and needed to understand how to apply it to the real world,” said Raklyar. “That’s how I-Corps really helped, and that’s how we found the product market fit and determined what the whole product could be.”

Their I-Corps experience provided many insights, from big picture vision to practical tools. “It took a long time for us to learn to explain the complexity of our company into simple terms,” Raklyar added. “We are grateful to I-Corps for bringing us down to earth. Every time we tried to explain in too scientific terms, the I-Corps mentors would say, ‘Don’t go there.’ I-Corps also taught us, don’t just dive into the tech, explain what it gives to people.”

NGQ’s technology leverages industrial-scale quantum computing, envisioning groundbreaking applications in many areas, including cyber security, finance, and biotech. After participating in the national I-Corps program, NGQ received a Partnership for Innovation grant from the National Science Foundation and was selected to take part in the Techstars accelerator’s Spring 2022 cohort in Los Angeles.

Considering other key learnings from I-Corps, Raklyar added, “The customer is your hero—not you, not your product. You are just there to help them. For example, you may think that your product might work for different verticals but, in fact, each wants such a specific application that the product becomes completely different, so you must prioritize which vertical you go to first. Our I-Corps mentors were always telling us to focus—that you can’t cover everything with the first iteration of your product.”

The company continues to be enmeshed in the CUNY ecosystem, from its employees to its home base—the startup is housed on the CUNY campus. “The support we get from CUNY has been tremendous,” said Kolmakov. “For example, having access to the Technology Commercialization Office’s expertise is so helpful.”


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