Case | HBS Case Collection | April 2004

D-Wave Systems: Building a Quantum Computer

by Alan D. MacCormack, Ajay Agrawal and Rebecca Henderson


D-Wave Systems is a start-up seeking to commercialize a quantum computer. Its business model is unique: as of 2003, it had very few technical resources within the firm. Instead, it financed a series of projects undertaken at universities and government labs. In return for partial funding, these organizations gave D-Wave the ownership of--or exclusive rights to--intellectual property developed in the project. Geordie Rose, CEO of D-Wave, wonders how long this model is appropriate in contrast to the alternative of centralizing the research in an in-house facility, with all the costs this would incur.

Keywords: Business Model; Business Startups; Engineering; Investment; Intellectual Property; Product Development; Research and Development; Commercialization; Computer Industry;


MacCormack, Alan D., Ajay Agrawal, and Rebecca Henderson. "D-Wave Systems: Building a Quantum Computer." Harvard Business School Case 604-073, April 2004.