Mitsubishi Chemical is Teaming up with IBM on Quantum Computing, For Now…

In June 2021, Mitsubishi Chemical and Toyota Motor announced that they would be using IBM’s quantum computers to leverage quantum computing technology for industrial applications, with a number of the companies, also including Hitachi, Toshiba, and Sony, collaborating to fund installation of the computer. This is huge news for the quantum computing industry, as more companies from a wider range of countries indicate interest in the technology. However, the announcement may also serve to obscure the fact that the Mitsubishi Group is beginning to work on its own quantum technology. 


In July 2021, Mitsubishi Electric was issued a patent directed to a gate for a quantum computer. Mitsubishi Electric’s patent focuses on using the gate in an ion-trap quantum computer, which is notably distinct from the superconducting quantum computers used by IBM. Of course, it’s possible that Mitsubishi Electric had a change in strategy since the patent was filed in 2020, but it’s also possible that Mitsubishi’s collaboration with IBM is only temporary while it begins to develop its own quantum computer. A company as large as Mitsubishi Electric getting into the ion trap quantum computing space would be huge for the technology, as its only major backers thus far are Honeywell and IonQ, while most big tech companies pursue superconducting technology. 


Keep in mind that Mitsubishi Electric and Mitsubishi Chemical aren’t the same company, or even part of the same company. Both companies are part of the Mitsubishi Group, which is a group of companies that share a close relationship and that meet in monthly conferences, but are legally independent. Therefore, while it’s possible that Mitsubishi Chemical would still choose IBM over any system developed by Mitsubishi Electric, it’s not very likely.

Patent Forecast® will continue to watch this space for whether Mitsubishi Electric will become the first major Japanese developer of quantum technology, and how this will impact IBM’s plans for Japan. Follow the Quantum Computing Patent Forecast® for more updates!