Sydney, Australia-based quantum computing startup Q-CTRL announced a $27.4 million series B extension, bringing total Series B funding to $52.4 million. Investors in the round included Salesforce Ventures, Alumni Ventures, ICM Allectus, Mindrock, Capital, Airbus Ventures, Data Collective, Horizons, Main Sequence Ventures, Ridgeline Partners, former General Dynamics partner Bill Lightfoot, and global rugby legend and Australian business leader John Eales.
During an otherwise subdued period for venture capital investments, quantum computing is attracting a lot of interest from investors. Non-US startups, specifically, have attracted new funding this year. Israeli startup Quantum Machines announced earlier this month a $20 million extension to the $50 million Series B round it raised last September. Similar announcements this month came from Paris-based quantum computing startup PASQAL which has raised €100 million in a Series B funding round and UK-based Oxford Ionics which has raised £30 million in Series A funding.
Funding for quantum computing startups comes not only from venture capital firms but also from governments worldwide. On January 23, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced a new federal investment of $40 million “to enable the Toronto-based Canadian quantum computing company Xanadu Quantum Technologies to build and commercialize the world’s first photonic-based, fault-tolerant quantum computer.”
Quantum research and consulting firm GQI, tracking government-funded projects by agency and institute for a number of countries, reported a total of more than $55 billion in state-sponsored research and development initiatives worldwide.
“Funding for quantum tech is global, long term, sustained and diversified. In fact, one of the most coordinated and well-resourced national programs post-war. While North America holds a strong hand when it comes to national programs, China must be considered the leader both in depth as well as funding their efforts. Regions like Australia, Japan, India and Israel have unusually strong programs. And the European continent, led by the UK, France and Germany, can rightfully claim a top spot, ahead or along China, due to the amount of resources invested and the strength of basic research and science,” GQI concluded.
One of the national programs in the U.S. recently yielded $9.1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund 13 projects in quantum information science (QIS) with relevance to nuclear physics. The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) has recently reported that the U.S. has been actively funding QIS R&D for the past 15 years, with significant increases since 2019. Over half of the last 15 years worth of funding was allocated between 2019 and 2022.
The analysts at the Quantum Computing Report think that the WTIA “is making a play” to add the cluster of quantum-related activities in the Pacific Northwest (including startups, local universities, Amazon and Microsoft) to the growing list of regions in the U.S.—Virginia/Maryland/DC area, Chicago, Colorado, New York state—vying to develop a “Silicon Valley” for quantum computing.
Indeed, the WTIA report claims that “Washington is the only U.S. quantum center of excellence that is already an established innovation hub, has exemplary academic institutions, and is home to the headquarters of major technology companies investing heavily in QIS.”
The report also notes that most quantum technology patents are filed by companies in China (54%) and Japan (15%), and that there are currently 162 universities and institutions worldwide with QIS-focused educational programs and research activity.
Australia is also developing a quantum computing cluster with government agencies, universities, established companies, and startups all contributing to investing in and promoting local expertise. The Australian government is providing $4 million for up to 20 PhDs in quantum research. There are over 17 quantum related companies in Australia which have received combined funding and investment of over $400 million for developing hardware, software and consulting services. As in other quantum clusters worldwide, startups are typically a spin-out from academic research.
One such startup, Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC), announced last June the world’s first integrated circuit manufactured at the atomic scale, two years ahead of schedule. Q-CTRL, focused on quantum error correction, was founded by Michael J. Biercuk, a physics professor and Director of the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University of Sydney.
“With the world’s largest team of experts in quantum control and error suppression, we’ve established ourselves as the provider of some of the most important technology in this sector. Additional validation from the investor community—especially while capital raises have been difficult to assemble—is a huge boost for our mission and ambition to truly make quantum technology useful,” Biercuk said in a statement.