Geordie Rose, chief technology officer of D-Wave Systems Inc., stands in front of his company's D-Wave one system, which contains a 128-qubit processor chip housed inside a cryogenics system. (Courtesy of D-Wave Systems Inc.)

The founder of a B.C. firm that makes quantum computers has been named "innovator of the year" by the Canadian Innovation Exchange.

Geordie Rose, chief technology officer of Burnaby, B.C.-based D-Wave Systems, Inc., will receive the award in Toronto on Dec. 1 for "a significant contribution to the innovation ecosystem," the Canadian Innovation Exchange said on its website.

The exchange is an annual one-day forum for the digital media, and information and communications technology industry.

D-Wave, founded in 1999, sold its first quantum computing system this past May to U.S.-based Lockheed Martin Corp., which specializes in defence, security and aerospace technology.

In October, D-Wave announced that another of its quantum computing systems would be launched at a commercial academic computing centre at the Marina del Rey campus of the University of Southern California, in partnership with Lockheed Martin.

Quantum computers store data in units called qubits, analogous to the bits used in conventional computers. But while each conventional bit stores information as either 1 or 0, qubits make use of quantum mechanics — laws of physics that apply only to very, very small particles such as atoms — to encode information as both 1 and 0 at the same time.

That property, known as superposition, means quantum computers can store exponentially more information and grow exponentially faster compared to conventional computers, and are better at certain types of operations.

Quantum computers also have a very small number of bits compared to conventional computers — D-Wave's quantum chip has just 128 qubits.

In addition to handing out the innovator of the year award, the Canadian Innovation Exchange gathering on Dec. 1 will showcase 20 firms chosen as "Canada's hottest innovative companies" this year and feature keynote talks and panel discussions.