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Australia’s Q-CTRL raises $15 million after Series A funding round

quantum computing

Hard Slog

Being a startup can be tough when you’re struggling for cash. This problem is magnified ten-fold in the quantum computing (QC) industry where greenbacks are an essential ingredient for growth. Research equipment, a place to put it and the need to hire the best people in the space can easily drain the already diminishing coffers.

So it was good news to hear one of the most innovative startups in the industry, Q-CTRL, an Australian-based concern, has just raised $15 million after a Series A funding round. The deal, headed by Square Peg Capital with an additional cash injection from Sierra Ventures, a Silicon Valley investor, as well as Sequoia Capital, Horizon Ventures and Main Sequence Ventures, will see Q-CTRL invest the cash in its growth as a company, especially in staff numbers, as well as open the possibility of opening a new office in California where most of the startup’s customers are, including Bleximo and Rigetti Computing amongst others.

‘Being at the vanguard of the birth of a new industry is extraordinary. We’re also thrilled to be assembling one of the most impressive investor syndicates in quantum technology. Finding investors who understand and embrace both the promise and the challenge of building quantum computers is almost magical.’

— Professor Biercuk, Q-CTRL

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Founded by Michael J. Biercuk, a professor of quantum physics and quantum technology at the University of Sydney in 2017, Q-CTRL’s main goal is to reduce, or stabilize, quantum interference from external noise factors such as radiation and magnetism in quantum systems and attempt to market their efforts. Interference — or ‘decoherence’ in quantum parlance — is the phenomenon of the collapsing of the delicate quantum states which are known as ‘superposition’ and ‘entanglement’. This problem has plagued QC for decades and is a brick wall that has slowed the successful implementation of scalable, working quantum computers. Q-CTRL’s panacea is called Firmware, a set of computer programs which will make QC hardware less susceptible to errors within the quantum system being run on it.

The investment counts as one of the biggest VC deals of the year, and just goes to show how major investors in the QC space are taking the industry seriously. It also makes the startup the biggest recipient of funds within the QC industry.

As one of the global leaders in QC, it has garnered a reputation — by tech giants IBM in 2018 — as one of the startups outside of the U.S and Canada — which promises to elevate the technology in QC and take a lead in its implementation.

‘Q-CTRL impressed us with their strategy; by providing infrastructure software to improve quantum computers for R&D teams and end-users, they’re able to be a central player in bringing this technology to reality. Their technology also has applications beyond quantum computing, including in quantum-based sensing, which is a rapidly-growing market. In Q-CTRL we found a rare combination of world-leading technical expertise with an understanding of customers, products and what it takes to build an impactful business.’

 — Tushar Roy, Square Peg Capital investment partner

Whether the company’s product can ‘do as it says on the tin’ is open to debate, yet the latest VC funding just goes to prove what a huge vote of confidence and nod of approval to the QC industry the gesture is.

The great Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said: ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’ I think these words are fitting to where we are heading in regard to QC. We don’t know exactly what tomorrow will bring, but with men like Professor Biercuk at the helm, supported by VCs who share his vision and goals, there are no limits to what can be achieved within the industry now and in the future.

James Dargan

James Dargan is a writer and researcher at The Quantum Insider. His focus is on the QC startup ecosystem and he writes articles on the space that have a tone accessible to the average reader.

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