Q-CTRL digest

Sydney's Q-CTRL wins backing from global technology funds

July 10, 2018
Written by
Marcus Strom

Australia's first quantum technology start-up completes initial seed round. Three global technology funding giants have invested in Q-CTRL, Australia’s first venture-capital-backed quantum technology company, established by the University of Sydney’s Professor Michael Biercuk.

Sequoia China and DCVC (Data Collective) with Hong Kong-based Horizons Ventures today completed Q-CTRL's seed round initiated last year by Australia's Main Sequence Ventures.

Sequoia China, a leading investment firm, is adept at partnering with winners in technology having worked closely with some of the world's most successful companies. DCVC is a newer but no less impressive Silicon Valley fund focused on AI and deep technology. It was one of the earliest investors in quantum computing hardware manufacturer, Rigetti, and its founding team has been investing in quantum technologies for almost two decades.

"This is a very exciting investment from some of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable venture capitalists," said Q-CTRL founder and CEO, Professor Michael Biercuk, head of the University's Quantum Control Laboratory.

Sequoia China and DCVC add a substantial contribution to Q-CTRL's multimillion dollar seed investments. Their capital, with a top-up from initial backers, Horizons Ventures, completes the seed round. Horizons Ventures is the technology investment vehicle of Li Ka Shing and has previously funded Spotify, Skype and Facebook at an early stage.

Steven Ji, Partner at Sequoia China, said: "Our mission is to invest in companies that can change the world. Q-CTRL and its founder Michael Biercuk are a perfect fit for that mission and we are excited to become partners to help Q-CTRL grow."

Q-CTRL is the global leader in one of the missing pieces in building scalable quantum computers. The company, which now employs 15 people based at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, focuses on control techniques to stabilise the quantum bits that are used to build quantum computers, quantum sensors and related technology.

"Looking back at how the Wright brothers transformed aviation, we know that control has helped build an industry before. Q-CTRL will do the same for quantum technology," Professor Biercuk said.

"We are growing rapidly and closing this seed round with such a powerful team is an enormous vote of confidence in what we've built and the potential for Australian companies to operate globally."

James Hardiman, Partner at DCVC, said: "We appreciate that the US is not the only wellspring of deep-tech innovation and were incredibly impressed by what Professor Biercuk and the Q-CTRL team had built and demonstrated. Coherence time is a bottle neck in quantum computing and their application of cutting-edge research to address an imminent commercial problem is exactly the kind of company we back at DCVC."

In April, just six months after it was founded, Q-CTRL became one of eight start-ups worldwide to be invited to join IBM's Q Network, enabling a collaboration with a leading quantum computer hardware manufacturer.

Q-CTRL builds on fundamental research undertaken at the Quantum Control Laboratory at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, the flagship of the University of Sydney Nano Institute.

Jonathan Tam from Horizons Ventures said: "We are excited to see great talent emerging from Australia and we are happy to show continued support for Q-CTRL's mission to become a key enabling technology for quantum computing. Their approach to error control will be integral to the development of the next generation of computing."

Initial backer and Q-CTRL Director, Phil Morle, partner at Main Sequence Ventures, said: "An investment in Q-CTRL from these globally renowned VCs is further evidence of the exciting quantum computing industry emerging from Australia."

Q-CTRL is ready to help you control your quantum future.