In the technology race, no challenge is more pressing than developing a viable quantum computer, which has applications to space, defence and just about every other sector of society.
Now Sydney company Q-CTRL, a spin-off from the University of Sydney’s Quantum Science group, has raised $22 million in venture capital to advance its work.
This investment places Q-CTRL, founded in 2017, in the top 10 most successful fundraisers globally in the emerging quantum technology industry and constitutes one of Australia’s largest venture capital deals for 2019.
“This funding is an exceptional acknowledgement of the value we’re adding to the quantum community and a statement of support for our global ambitions,” said Q-CTRL founder Professor Michael Biercuk.
The new for Q-CTRL is led by Australia’s largest venture capital fund Square Peg Capital, with a new syndicate member, Silicon Valley’s Sierra Ventures.
The round also includes participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Main Sequence Ventures and Horizons Ventures.
Q-CTRL specialises in solving one of the hardest problems in quantum computing – the inherent instability of the computer hardware.
Quantum computers are notoriously fragile. Machines being developed now by companies such as IBM, Rigetti and Google can only run operations for very short periods before errors emerge and programs fail.
Although quantum computers have great promise, that fragility means they aren’t yet viable for general industry applications.
Q-CTRL’s infrastructure software is based on a decade of research at the University of Sydney’s Quantum Control Laboratory, run by Professor Biercuk.
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“This is a wonderful story about long-term investment in basic science leading to an outstanding commercial outcome for Australia. We congratulate Mike on his continuing success,” said University of Sydney deputy vice-chancellor for research Professor Duncan Ivison.
Q-CTRL’s solutions are demonstrated in peer-reviewed journals to reduce hardware-error susceptibility by orders of magnitude, accelerating the pathway to the first commercially relevant quantum computers.
Q-CTRL has Rigetti, Bleximo, Accenture and others as customers. Last year it was chosen as the first company outside North America to be included in IBM's Q Network of start-ups working to advance the emerging quantum computing industry.
“This capital raise will support major growth for the company, roughly doubling the 25-member team of quantum engineers and software developers,” Professor Biercuk said.
“It will also support geographic expansion to include a new office in Los Angeles, bringing Q-CTRL staff closer to core customers in the US. It’s a thrilling time for the team and this emerging industry.”