Silicon Valley For The Rest of The World
London, capital of the UK, home to nearly nine million people and famous the world over for its culture. Over two thousand years old, it joins New York City, Shanghai and Tokyo as one of the globe’s financial hubs. Yet, it’s not only that — London is also at the heart of Europe’s tech startup scene, notwithstanding Brexit. As a nexus of international talent and capital, the city is now competing with places like Silicon Valley and Bengaluru as the go-to city for would-be tech entrepreneurs to make their fortunes and reputations.
Proof of this is in the quantum computing (QC) sector. Home to over half a dozen startups and counting, one reason for this is the abundance of top-class universities: Imperial College London, King’s College London, London Business School, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), and UCL head the more than fifty institutions located in the capital.
Yes, I said that right — fifty! This has to be a reason, among other, less tangible ones.
“Nearly 40 per cent of the unicorns created in Europe in the last 10 years have been in the UK and that lead is increasing. We are really seeing that London is becoming a Silicon Valley for the rest of the world.”
— Saul Klein, cofounder of venture capital & private equity firm LocalGlobe, 2019
Klien’s words are encouraging, especially for QC which has grown as an industry over the last few years, in part due to the work the big players like IBM, Google, Honeywell, Microsoft and the rest have been doing with research in the sector.
Because London is so at the heart of what is going on within quantum tech, TQD thought it noteworthy enough and beneficial to our readership to list the startups/companies building our industry under the shadow of Big Ben.
Founded in 2017 by David Williams, ArQit intends to use its quantum key distribution (QKD) technology to build the world’s first quantum encryption SaaS commercial enterprise. With its website and social media accounts only revealing the bare minimum of the team’s IP, TQD hopes that soon enough ArQit will come out of stealth mode and show the world what it can do.
Quantum Landed On Your Watch
Crypta Labs is an award-winning IOT security startup whose goal is to make the world a safer place through encryption. Using the power of its patented quantum random number generator (QRNG) technology, the startup is mindful cyberattacks can occur at any time and in an array of ways and wants to secure our data from such negative scenarios.
Quantum Security Solutions by Design
— Crypta Labs
Founded in 2014 by Joe Luong and Maarten Weehuizen, since 2016 the startup has raised over $4 million in capital by way of Seed and Angel rounds, Non-Equity Assistance and Debt Financing.
A startup listed by TQD on more than one occasion, ORCA Computing was founded in 2019 by Ian Walmsley, Richard Murray, Cristina Escoda, and Josh Nunn. The startup came together based on research from Professor Ian Walmsley’s Ultra-fast and Non-linear Quantum Optics Group at the University of Oxford (UK).
Photonic qubits are awesome, but current photonic machines require millions of redundant components. ORCA solves the quantum photonics redundancy problem using the ORCA Memory.
— ORCA Computing
Utilizing its novel proprietary photonic technology using optical fibres, ORCA Computing is developing scalable and flexible quantum computers for real-world applications.
The startup raised some $3.7 million in a Pre-seed round in the summer of 2020.
Ashley Montanaro John Morton and Toby Cubitt (great name) founded the UCL and University of Bristol spinout Phasecraft in 2018 to expand and develop fundamental quantum theory and software that will allow quantum computers to probe novel quantum materials, simulate chemical reactions and assist in the discovery of new catalysts and the optimization of important industrial processes, amongst other things.
Using disruptive theory to unlock the power of quantum computing
With a team of experts in the fields of mathematical physic, quantum algorithms, quantum computational complexity, and quantum software research, the £8.2 million Phasecraft has raised since 2019 is impressive and will supercharge the pioneering research it’s currently undertaking on the “quantum computing frontier”.
Similar to ORCA Computing, Post-Quantum is an entity TQD has covered numerous times before. More a company than a startup — seeing as that it was founded in 2009, making it one of the world’s oldest QC startups — Post-Quantum’s unique encryption algorithm (NTS-KEM, now called Classic McEliece) was designed to safeguard global data from the cyber black hats lurking around every ‘virtual’ corner. Post-Quantum has raised north of $11 million since 2013, most of it coming from a Series A round in 2016 valued at a hefty £10.3 million.
Protecting the world’s information, today and tomorrow
All the money in the world is great, but as the first to market the complicated technology that is post-quantum encryption, the founding team of Andersen Cheng, CJ Tjhai and Martin Tomlinson had a lot of pressure to withstand in the early years. A decade on from those inauspicious beginnings, they’re still around and thriving with their quantum-safe messaging, voice calls, document sharing and VPN.
A company that was established in 2017 to develop modelling software for designing and optimizing quantum components, Quantopticon is unique as its founders are two women, CEO Mirella Koleva and CSO Gaby Slavcheva. The startup’s IP is based on Slavcheva’s invention “to streamline the design of new quantum-photonic devices and dramatically slim down the cost and time invested in building these technologies.” This morphed into the Quantillion quantum toolbox which helps customers “[…] model realistic quantum photonic devices”.
“Quantillion enables the user to explore new combinations of device configurations and pulse excitations, opening the way to ground-breaking quantum optical phenomena.”
— Professor Maurice Skolnick, University of Sheffield and scientific advisor to Quantopticon
In the same year that it was founded, Quantopticon won more than £120,000 in Pre-seed funding from Innovate UK.
Rahko is a quantum ML startup founded in 2018 by Leonard Wossnig, Edward Grant, Miriam Cha, and Ian Horobin. On the verge of a breakthrough in advanced modelling for drugs and materials by virtue of quantum mechanics, the startup possesses expertise — due to its advisory team that’s not far off the ‘Solvay AKA 1927’ — in quantum ML and quantum software engineering that will see them to the endzone, by hook or by crook.
Solving chemistry with quantum machine learning
In 2019, the startup managed to raise £1.3 million in a Seed round. This, along with the partnerships the team has nurtured with acceleration platform NVIDIA Inception, Microsoft, AWS Activate, the Quantum Business Network (QBN), UCL Innovation & Enterprise — not to mention the support from investors Balderton Capital and AI Seed — gives Rahko a head-ups in terms of market scope and influence in the quantum ML sector.
There’s little doubt more London QC startups will emerge in the months and years to come, creating — like in Canada’s Quantum Valley — an environment conducive to the new technology.
The Quantum Insider
From Arqit to Rahko, London is on the quantum up, joining Oxford and other locations as centres of the industry.
With that, are you or your company interested in finding out more about quantum startups or the wider scene in terms of research in the sector? If the answer is ‘yes’, then look no further: The Quantum Insider (TQI), TQD’s very own data set for the quantum information science (QIS) landscape, both in terms of commercial as well as academic scope.