10 Quantum Computing Startups Getting Funded in 2018
If we had to pick the single most Sci-Fi sounding technology we’ve ever written about, it would probably be a toss-up between Kernel’s brain chips and quantum computing in general. Renowned physicist David Deutsche says that “quantum computation will be the first technology that allows useful tasks to be performed in collaboration between parallel universes,” a sentiment that was also echoed by the founder and Chief Technology Officer of D-Wave, Geordie Rose. It’s mind-blowing to think about what we might be able to do with quantum computing, not to mention the whole parallel universe thing, so we want to stay on top of which quantum computing companies have been getting funding lately. A quick look at CrunchBase shows us 15 startups labeled under the category “quantum computing” that have taken in disclosed funding rounds during 2018 so far. Of those fifteen startups, nine took in their first disclosed funding round this year. Let’s take a look at these nine names plus a bonus name.
Founded in 2017, Berkeley-based startup Bleximo took in a single seed round of $1.5 million just days ago with the intent to develop “quantum application-specific integrated circuit technology” which will be specialized in an industry-specific manner. In a past article, we talked about how processors like ASICS can be coded to address very specific applications with very high levels of performance as a result. That’s pretty much what Bleximo is doing with their “quantum accelerators.” The startup also announced a partnership with a startup called Q-CTRL which we’ll discuss next. (Just a thought here, but has anyone considered what bitcoin mining might look like when quantum computing arrives?)
Since Q-CTRL wasn’t classified under “quantum computing” on CrunchBase, we almost missed this Australian startup that took in a second seed round this summer with participation from Sequoia. Founded in 2017, Q-CTRL has taken in an undisclosed amount of funding from two seed rounds so far to develop a “hardware-agnostic platform which works with every qubit to reduce decoherence and errors at the physical layer.” They’ve already released a cloud-based product called Black Opal:
One of the biggest problems researchers face when trying to build a functional quantum computer is getting the qbit to stabilize so they can be used for computations. Q-CTRL is one of eight startups selected by IBM to run computations on their quantum machines.
Update 09/10/19: Q-CTRL has raised $15 million in funding to double its team (currently numbering 25) and set up shop on the West Coast, specifically Los Angeles. This brings the company’s total funding to $15 million to date.
Founded in 2007, Denver-based startup ColdQuanta took in a seed funding round of $6.8 million over the summer. The funding will be used to commercialize ColdQuanta’s foundational ultracold neutral atom technology. A cursory look through the website shows that they’re somewhat of a picks-and-shovels provider for companies that need ultra-specialized equipment and tools for quantum computing research.
Founded in 2014, Silicon Valley startup QC Ware first came across our radar in an article we wrote almost 2 years ago titled 10 Quantum Computing Companies. In that article, we talked about how the startup is trying to figure out how to perform optimizations on a quantum computer. In July of this year, QC Ware took in a $6.5 million funding round from some big corporate names including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Airbus. In the same month, QC Ware announced support for Cirq, an open-source quantum computing framework offered by Google. Their enterprise-focused quantum computing cloud will also support other quantum computing hardware providers as well.
Founded just this year, Austin-based startup Strangeworks has taken in $4 million in funding from a small pool of investors so they can work on something related to quantum computing that they’re trying to keep a secret at the moment. Their Cirque-du-Soleil-looking website is filled with chatter about making quantum computing accessible to the decision-makers of a firm. The founder and CEO, William Hurley, is somewhat of a serial entrepreneur having founded Chaotic Moon Studios which was acquired by Accenture in 2015 and Honest Dollar which was acquired by Goldman Sachs in 2016. That’s where Mr. Hurley served as M.D. before leaving in February of this year to get his latest venture off the ground. He’s published a whole slew of papers on quantum computing and already seems to be an expert in the space.
Founded in 2017, Massachusetts-based startup Zapata Computing was launched by a group of Harvard scientists who have taken in $5.4 million in funding to build a quantum software and services company. The startup is running in full-on stealth mode, so our best guess is they’re building much the same sort of industry-specific solutions that we see other companies on this list developing as well. Because there are so many applications and problems to address once quantum computing arrives, there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. Being in a niche and not telling anyone you’re there can be a clever way to get ahead in your niche while flying under the radar.
Update 04/18/19: Zapata Computing has raised $21 million in Series A funding to bring quantum computing to enterprise applications. This brings the company’s total funding to $31.4 million to date.
Founded in 2016, Canadian startup Xanadu has taken in around $7 million in funding to “design and integrate quantum silicon photonic chips into existing hardware to create truly full-stack quantum computing.” Instead of using electrons to carry information and perform calculations, they use photons. A recent paper published by the technical team at Xanadu titled “Near-deterministic production of universal quantum photonic gates enhanced by machine learning” implies that they’re using machine learning to enhance their hardware. Xanadu’s “Strawberry Fields” is an open-source quantum software package featuring a quantum machine learning toolbox for quantum computing built on TensorFlow.
Founded in 2017, British startup GTN Limited has taken in around $2.7 million in funding to build their “Generative Tensorial Networks”, thus the acronym GTN. Their software uses machine learning techniques and quantum physics to simulate, filter and search for new pharmaceutical drugs, discovering molecules entirely hidden from view. They claim to be “currently running collaborations with global pharmaceutical companies, with a number of the ten largest pharmaceutical companies in our pipeline.” Last year, IBM made the news having simulated a molecule on a quantum computer. While today’s supercomputers can do the same, they quickly get bogged down as molecules increase in complexity.
Founded in January of this year, Toronto-based startup Qindom Inc. is dedicated to reconstructing AI with quantum computing technologies using D-Wave computing hardware. The topic of artificial intelligence and quantum computing is something we’ve talked about before, and Qindom took in $2 million around the time they were founded so that their team (almost entirely constructed of university professors at the moment) can move fast to develop “quantum intelligence” which marries artificial intelligence with quantum computing to do grand things.
Founded in 2018, Canadian startup Intelline has taken in a small amount of money in the form of a grant to build “mass custom cryocoolers to enable widespread implementation of cryocooled technologies.” Quantum computing needs cooling solutions that reach incredibly cold temperatures. For example, D-Wave’s quantum computer cools 10 kilos of material to a temperature that’s approximately 180 times colder than interstellar space. Consequently, Intelline wants to become a picks-and-shovels play for quantum computing by building superior components for extreme cooling.
All the startups we’ve talked about in this article took in their first disclosed funding round in 2018, which shows that venture capitalists are still keen to fund quantum computing technologies, which means they must anticipate that quantum supremacy will be reached within a reasonable time frame. It seems rather telling that all these startups are cropping up and creating quantum computing software and services, many of which are platform independent, implying that the emergence of a fully-functioning quantum computer that’s ready for commercialization could be right around the corner – and not just from one company. In a coming article, we’re going to look at the remaining quantum computing startups that took in funding during 2018. Stay tuned.
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