UK’s Oxford Quantum Circuit raises $47 million for quantum computing service TechCrunch

Quantum computing has made great strides in the past few years – going from a theoretical concept to a variety of experimental environments, to help organizations prepare for an era when quantum computing, and processing power, will be the most important. their incomparable logic, becomes an expanded reality. Currently, based in the UK Oxford Quantum Circuits is announcing £38 million ($47 million) in funding to drive the development of its own contribution to the space – a patented 3D processor architecture it calls Coaxmon, plus quantum computing as a service will run on it. OQC says that this Series A is the largest to date for a UK-based quantum computer startup.

“We work at speed and our systems are being optimized. We will continue to scale and reduce error rates,” Ilana Wisby, Founding CEO of OQC, said in an interview. “Our vision is seamless quantum access.”

Lansdowne Partners and The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC), a deep tech fund outside of Japan, are co-leading the round, along with British Patient Capital, Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE) and Oxford Investment Consultants (OIC) ) also participate. OSE and OIC previously led a £2.2 million seed round into the startup, which started life as a preschool from Oxford University and the work done there by the quantum physicist (and OQC founder), Dr. Peter Leek.

The plan will be to use the funding to continue to hire more talent (currently 60 employees), continue to improve access to quantum computing for developers interested in working with it, and continued to build its computing infrastructure, which today is based on the 8-qubit Machine. And as you can guess from the investor list, it will also use some funds to expand into Asia Pacific, and specifically Japan, to reach the desired clients there in the financial services and more.

“Quantum computing promises to be the next frontier of innovation, and OQC, with state-of-the-art Coaxmon technology, aims to integrate the vanguard of modern physics into our daily lives.” Lenny Chin, principal at UTEC, said in a statement. “UTEC is honored to be part of OQC’s mission to make quantum technology accessible to all and will support OQC’s expansion into the Asia-Pacific through cooperation with academies including the University of Tokyo, and partnerships with leading Japanese financial and technology corporations.”

Wisby told me that OQC actually started this Series A fundraising before the pandemic, in early 2020; but it chose to shelve that process and move on subsidize instead to build the company in earlier stages.

That took OQC pretty far, from 1 qubit, to 2 qubits, then 4 qubits, and now an 8-qubit machine.

The startup has also provided services to many customers working in OQC’s private cloud or via Amazon Braket, the AWS Quantum Computing Platform also provides developers with access to other quantum service providers such as Rigetti, IonQ, and D-Wave. (OQC notes that their quantum computer, named Lucy, is the first European quantum vendor on Braket – an important detail for quantum companies and researchers outside of Europe, who people who need to comply with data protection laws by keeping data and processing it locally: this gives them a local option.)

Its customers include Cambridge Quantumrun it Iron bridge OQC’s computer cryptographic number generator; financial services companies; molecular dynamics researchers; government organizations and large multinational companies with in-house R&D teams working on systems capable of running on quantum machines as they are matured.

“Ultimately” is the working word here: the real promise of quantum computing is massive computing power, but there is yet to be a built quantum computer that can achieve it at scale. large without generating many errors.

But it seems like a lot of hope today lies not in “if” but “when” that barrier will be crossed. “We are the theory of the past,” says Wisby.

That led to a huge wave of big tech players like IBM, Amazon and Alphabet to participate, as well as numbers less starting a businessand companies like Rigetti, IonQ, and D-Wave lie between those two poles. While there are a number of options for building and selling quantum devices, economics doesn’t make sense for most potential use cases, so for now larger efforts seem to revolve around quantity. cloud computing: deliver it as an infrastructure-free, use-when-you-need-computing service.

While Oxford Quantum Circuits’ 8-qubit computer isn’t the biggest in the field, Wisby says that one reason it attracts users and this investment in a difficult fundraising environment is because because its platform is better, in that it generates less errors than others.

“We are all working towards larger scale processes,” says Wisby. However, she added, there is something to be said for better quality and fewer errors. “We have a low error rate and the funding will allow us to take the next steps.”

Another key factor in this process is the fact that regions and countries are soon looking to support leaders in the field to help strengthen their respective positions in the next generation of technology. accordingly, and so supporting the Oxford Quantum Circuit is seen as part of that strategy. British Patient Capital is a strategic backer in that respect: it is the investment arm of the British Corporate Bank, a government-owned bank focused on business and industrial development in the United Kingdom.

Peter Davies, partner and head of growth market strategy at Lansdowne Partners, said: “Since the launch of the UK’s first commercial quantum computer, we continue to be highly impressed with the company. both technical developments and future ambitions of OQC”. statement. “We are excited to invest in this innovative and forward-thinking company.”

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