11 Jan 2022
Research
7 minute read

Building on our history of innovation for the future of IBM

For more than a century, IBM has been rooted in the fundamental promise of technology: We believe that when we apply science to real-world problems, we can make progress — for both business and society. And as those problems have changed over time, so have we. IBM has repeatedly reinvented itself to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way of innovation and value for our clients.

For more than a century, IBM has been rooted in the fundamental promise of technology: We believe that when we apply science to real-world problems, we can make progress — for both business and society. And as those problems have changed over time, so have we. IBM has repeatedly reinvented itself to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way of innovation and value for our clients.

IBM scientists and engineers have been at the heart of our relentless reinvention. They have always been guided by a core principle, to deliver innovation that matters, for our company and the world.

Our commitment to research as part of our business model means we will continue to create the technologies that our clients and the world rely upon. For example, we have led US companies for decades in the number of patents received annually. Today, it was announced IBM has achieved this milestone for IBM’s total of more than 8,500 patents led the IFI Claims Patent Service 2021 rankings.29 years in a row.

We are proud of this accomplishment and our leadership. However, the number of patents we receive has never told the full story of the innovation we drive. Our priority has always been leading the frontiers of computing and its relationship to business, science, professions, and society.

I believe that today, more than ever, we need innovation to meet the demands of many of the major challenges of our time — from models to create sustainable growth, to addressing future pandemics and climate change, to enabling energy and food security. To address them, we need faster discovery, open collaboration, efficient problem solving, and the ability to push science and business into new frontiers.

This future will be powered by a blend of high-performance computing, AI, and quantum computing, all integrated through the hybrid cloud. The confluence of these technologies represents a step change in computing, and the outcomes will surpass anything we’ve seen before. Together, these advancements can exponentially alter the speed and scale at which we can uncover solutions to complex problems. We’ve come to call this accelerated discovery.

Our priority has always been leading the frontiers of computing and its relationship to business, science, professions, and society.

But this will not happen in a vacuum. Strong innovation is built on a collaborative ecosystem, a commitment to long-term investment in hard tech challenges and fundamental materials, and the implementation of an open approach.

We have a long history of putting these principles into practice, and it’s in this spirit we undertook some of the most daunting hard technology challenges in 2021 — and delivered on them.

To name just a few: we worked with our partners to demonstrate the first 2 nm nanosheet technology for semiconductors, which will support up to 50 billion transistors on a chip the size of a fingernail and offer enormous gains in efficiency. We also collaborated with Samsung on the successful prototype of a chip that defies conventional semiconductor design, and lays the groundwork to achieve energy density and performance levels previously thought unattainable.

blog_project-nacho-16x9@2x.png
Row of 2 nm nanosheet devices as seen using transmission electron microscopy. 2 nm is smaller than the width of a single strand of human DNA.

And as we lead the quest to reach practical and large-scale quantum computing, we stayed true to the ambitious roadmap we laid out in 2020 and In addition to unveiling Eagle, our 127-qubit quantum processor, and previewing the design for IBM Quantum System Two, our next-generation system that will house future quantum processors, we also introduced, Quantum Serverless, a new programming model for leveraging quantum and classical resources. Read more.delivered Eagle, our first 127-qubit processor, which will be critical to growing the nascent quantum industry IBM is pioneering.

To continue to realize a future marked by fundamental technology progress and the exploration of new scientific boundaries, we are deepening our commitment to this approach.

Building open communities for innovation

As part of our strategy, we are doubling down on our already robust and long-standing commitment to open communities. Innovation can emerge from anywhere, from a tech giant or a disruptive startup. In software, the growth of open source has redefined where innovation can come from, and how it is monetized. IBM has a long history in open source, and that continues today. Our pioneering work in serverless computing, which is quickly becoming the leading platform for the hybrid cloud industry because of the significant growth of Red Hat, is just one example of this.

We will also expand our focus to grow communities of innovation. The most successful technologies and innovations are often found when complementary institutions work together. To take one example among many, our collaboration with the The Cleveland Clinic + IBM Discovery Accelerator is a collaboration set to advance pathogen research, and foster the next-gen tech workforce for healthcare. Read more.Cleveland Clinic will bring together IBM’s technology and expertise in hybrid cloud, AI, and quantum computing to help Cleveland Clinic discover solutions to pressing issues around public health.

These sorts of collaborations will help technology to solve truly profound problems, and we hope to do so in partnership with other institutions adopting our technology, including Fraunhofer-Geselleschaft, Germany’s largest research institution, the Hartree Centre, a major AI and high-performance computing research facility in the UK, and Japan’s University of Tokyo and Keio University. Worldwide, we will continue to forge partnerships with the broader scientific community as we look to accelerate the pace of discovery.

IBM Germany engineers working on the IBM Quantum System One.
IBM Germany engineers working on Fraunhofer-Geselleschaft’s IBM Quantum System One.

Pushing discovery beyond patent filings

Moving forward, we’re strengthening our companywide approach to focus our innovation efforts around the areas that matter most for our business and for society at large. This will include hybrid cloud, AI, quantum computing, systems and semiconductors, and security.

We believe these areas will have the most impact on our clients, industries, and the world. We also believe they’re the ones with the greatest potential for ecosystem collaboration.

While IBM will remain an intellectual property powerhouse with one of the strongest US patent portfolios, as part of our heightened focus moving forward, we’ll also take a more selective approach to patenting. We are proud of our decades-long history of topping the US patents chart, but in this new era, our position as the recipient of the most patents in any given year will not be a priority. Instead, our focus will be to prioritize growing these key technology areas of our company.

The problems the world is facing today require us to work faster than ever before. We see it as our duty to catalyze scientific progress by taking the cutting-edge technologies we’re working on, scaling them, and deploying them with partners across every industry.

Innovation is the heart and soul of IBM and serves as the engine to make our clients and the world work better. We made enormous strides in the last year, and we plan to achieve even more in 2022.

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11 Jan 2022

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Notes

  1. Note 1IBM’s total of more than 8,500 patents led the IFI Claims Patent Service 2021 rankings. ↩︎
  2. Note 2In addition to unveiling Eagle, our 127-qubit quantum processor, and previewing the design for IBM Quantum System Two, our next-generation system that will house future quantum processors, we also introduced, Quantum Serverless, a new programming model for leveraging quantum and classical resources. Read more. ↩︎
  3. Note 3The Cleveland Clinic + IBM Discovery Accelerator is a collaboration set to advance pathogen research, and foster the next-gen tech workforce for healthcare. Read more. ↩︎