Two quantum adjacent technologies – quantum sensing (QS) and quantum communication (Qcomm) – are as important as quantum computing hardware itself, as they help make quantum computers function more accurate.
A Sydney-based startup called Q-CTRL has built quantum detection software that helps reduce errors on quantum computers. Today, the company announced that it has raised an additional $27.4 million in funding.
The Series B extension comes nearly 14 months after the startup raised its $25 million Series B in November 2021. Q-CTRL CEO Michael Biercuk told londonbusinessblog.com that the startup made major discoveries and demonstrations of its technology almost immediately after the latest raise.
“We had spent nearly four years building core capabilities and finally put them all together to show how we can improve the performance of a full quantum algorithm beyond just the individual components of the hardware,” Biercuk told londonbusinessblog.com. “By March 2022, we had improved up to about 9,000 times in the probability that a quantum algorithm run with our tools would give the correct answer.”
Biercuk explained that this discovery was one of many benchmarks that helped prove the startup could transform quantum computing performance and provide improved usability for end users.
The major breakthroughs also drove revenue growth. Q-CTRL’s sales bookings grew threefold to more than $15 million in CY 2022, Biercuk said. The startup has more than 8,000 users, including government contracts with the US, defense agencies in Australia and quantum computing companies such as Rigetti, IonQ, IBM, Atom Computing, Alice & Bob, Nord Quantique and Pasqal. Universities and national laboratories also use Q-CTRL’s tools; many companies (EY, KPMG, Capgemini, Quanscient, Xerox PARC and Classiq) have commercial partnership agreements with Q-CTRL.
The outfit has four products: Black Opal, Boulder Opal, Fire Opal, and Open Controls. Last October, Q-CTRL, which focused on making quantum computers usable (faster), launched a learning platform, Black Opal Enterprise, designed to help companies and organizations understand quantum computing to build quantum-ready teams. That was followed by the release of Black Opal in April 2022 to help individuals learn quantum computing.
Salesforce Ventures, Alumni Ventures, ICM Allectus, Mindrock Capital, Bill Lightfoot (a former partner at General Dynamics) and John Eales (an Australian business leader and global rugby legend) took part in the final round. Previous investors include Airbus Ventures, Data Collective, Horizons, Main Sequence Ventures and Ridgeline Partners.
The company has not provided valuation information, but says it will use the proceeds to further develop its quantum technology, focusing on product engineering, sales and marketing capabilities. It also plans to grow its team from 80 to around 120 this year in offices in Sydney, Los Angeles and Berlin.
Applications of quantum sensors range from bioimaging, spectroscopy, navigation providing high-precision GPS, environmental monitoring (prediction of volcanic disturbances, CO2 emission measurement) and more, according to a McKinsey report.
“Hiring teams of specialists can be risky and expensive. Q-CTRL’s frictionless quantum infrastructure software has a shallow learning curve and enables CIOs and CTOs to become quantum ready today, reducing risk for enterprises,” said Heather West, research manager of IDC, in a statement. “Q-CTRL expects that its software enables companies to leverage the skills of their current IT developers to easily develop, optimize and run quantum algorithms and achieve high levels of performance on a given hardware at a low net cost.”
“Q-CTRL’s technology is head and shoulders above the rest of the industry in addressing the most fundamental challenge in quantum computing,” said Robert Keith, general manager of Salesforce Ventures. “Q-CTRL’s products are essential to the enterprise adoption of quantum computing, and their use of AI delivers critical insights on hardware platforms that no one else can match.”