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

10 July 2018
Australia’s first VC-backed quantum start-up completes seed round
Multimillion dollar investment in Professor Michael Biercuk's company shows the quantum economy is emerging right here, right now at the University of Sydney and related entities.
Professor Michael Biercuk at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, home for Q-CTRL.

Professor Michael Biercuk at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, home for Q-CTRL.

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 announced completion of 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 equally prestigious Silicon Valley fund focused on artificial intelligence 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 stage investments. Their capital, with a top-up from early backers, Horizons Ventures, completes the seed round. Horizons Ventures has previously funded Spotify, Skype and Facebook at an early stage.

Steven Ji, a 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.

Professor Biercuk said: “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.

“We are growing rapidly and closing this 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 bottleneck 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, Q-CTRL became one of just 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 building of the University of Sydney Nano Institute.

The team includes alumni and doctoral students from the University.

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Duncan Ivison, said: “Q-CTRL is a great example of a successful spin-out of long-term research as cutting-edge commercial enterprise. We are proud to host Professor Biercuk’s company and are thrilled Q-CTRL is going from strength-to-strength.”

Q-CTRL: powering the quatnum revolution

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