​Accenture, 1QBit partner for drug discovery through quantum computing

Accenture and quantum computing startup 1QBit have partnered with pharmaceutical giant Biogen to develop a quantum-enabled molecular comparison application for drug discovery.

Accenture has partnered with quantum software startup 1QBit to develop a quantum-enabled molecular comparison application for US multinational biotechnology firm Biogen.

The application is expected to improve advanced molecular design to speed up drug discovery for complex neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's.

Researchers at Accenture Labs worked with 1QBit to create the new application, which enhances Biogen's existing molecule comparison method through quantum computing.

Molecular comparison is a crucial part of early-phase drug design and discovery, Accenture explained, and involves intensive computational methods to review molecule matches and predict the positive effects of a therapy or drug while reducing negative side effects.

As quantum computing has the potential to find the answer to complex problems millions of times faster than classical computing by leveraging the properties of quantum physics, Accenture said the new application provides insights into the molecular comparison process as well as much deeper contextual information about how, where, and why molecules match.

This is expected to enable scientists and researchers to analyse large collections of molecules more quickly and cost effectively.

"At Biogen, we're always looking to harness cutting-edge technologies that push the boundaries of traditional pharmaceutical research to discover new treatments and cures for complex neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative conditions," Govinda Bhisetti, head of Computational Chemistry at Biogen, said.

"Collaborating with researchers at Accenture Labs and 1QBit made it possible to rapidly pilot and deploy a quantum-enabled application that has the potential to enable us to bring medicines to people faster."

Accenture Labs said it has identified more than 150 use cases with clients where quantum computing would be relevant, and is working with clients across multiple industries to prepare for the arrival of mainstream quantum computing.

Also on Friday, Accenture expanded its partnership with SAP to include working with SAP Leonardo, the ERP giant's digital innovation system that combines differentiating software capabilities in machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, analytics, and blockchain on its SAP Cloud Platform.

Accenture will be integrating more than 50 of its enterprise analytics applications with SAP Leonardo, spanning finance and accounting, supply chain, procurement, human capital management, and sales and customer service.

"Today, we're at an incredible tipping point," said Pierre Nanterme, Accenture chairman and CEO. "We're face to face with an era of tremendous business transformation where the fundamental rules of how we create value are being rewritten. What we're announcing today is a bold step in defining the rules for the intelligent enterprise."

The companies first began working together 18 months ago on SAP S/4HANA, aiming to simplify and fast-track the "digital journeys" of its clients. SAP and Accenture had partnered back in 2010 for Business ByDesign and in 2014 expanded their global alliance through an agreement to offer cloud-based offerings designed for industry-specific and technology-enabled operations.

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