Simmons said that she will officially become SQC CEO in July. The company has already been the recipient of $83 million in seed backing from the federal and NSW governments, Telstra, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and UNSW. Simmons is currently the Scientia Professor of quantum physics at the University of NSW.
According to TQI’s intelligence platform, SQC envision a key milestone will be a 10-qubit quantum integrated circuit prototype in silicon by 2023. Ultimately, Professor Simmons told the Financial Review that the goal is building a 100-qubit processor that is “commercially relevant, rather than theoretically important.”
The broader market may look shaky, but Simmons is convinced the time is right for SQC to raise funds.
“In general, I think the quantum computing market is very hot and lively at the moment, so from a quantum perspective it’s a good time,” Simmons told the Financial Review. “As a company we have got some fantastic results that we’re going to be putting out very shortly, and [raising] is part of our milestone chart, so this is a good time for us to go, and the world is always going to be the world.”
Simmons said existing backers have been contacted about follow-on investment. The Financial Review also mentioned that the Australian government could add a follow-on investment of its own through an upcoming $1 billion critical technology fund.
“People that have worked with us for a while are very excited about the technology … It is a technology that is strategic for the country, which is obviously why government invested in the first place, and it is going to remain strategic for a long period of time,” she told AFR. “The key things we’re excited about is that we have got these milestones down, which we’ve been hitting, and some of those ahead of time.”
As a slight taste of research news to come, Simmons added that, while not public yet, the company expects to announce the publication of a “big milestone.”
Pioneer in Silicon Quantum
SQC is a pioneer in using silicon to build quantum computers.
In a recent exclusive interview with The Quantum Insider Simmons said that silicon makes a promising material for quantum computers for two reasons: they have long coherence time and there are decades of research and experience working with material development in silicon.
“We spent about five to ten years optimizing the manufacture of our qubits out of atoms in silicon, and realized the quality of the qubits was really outstanding,” Simmons said.
SQC was one of the first quantum companies backed by a national government, she added.
“It was driven by the fact we had funding from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia — they actually came to us in 2012,” said Simmons. “They were looking at quantum computing… They travelled the world, trying to find out who the leaders were in quantum computing.
According to Simmons, the company has a “build in-house” philosophy that should appeal to major investors.
“If you don’t manufacture it in-house, you can’t build it,” Simmons told TQI. “I think you have to control your manufacturing line. So, if you’re outsourcing something that has never been built before, you just can’t assume that somebody cares about it as much as you do.”