March 2, 2023

QDNL Participations launches €15m quantum fund to help spinouts scale

It’s one of Europe’s first quantum dedicated funds

Freeke Heijman, co-founder at Quantum Delta NL and Ton van ‘t Noordende, Managing Director at QDNL Participations

Dutch quantum-focused investor QDNL Participations is announcing the close of a €15m fund dedicated to helping university quantum spinouts scale. 

It’s one of the first dedicated quantum funds in Europe, and all of the cash has been committed by a sole LP, the government-backed foundation Quantum Delta NL. 

Where will the money be spent?

QDNL Participations will invest €300k-700k in 5-10 Dutch startups at pre-seed, and will also participate in follow-on rounds. The fund says it’ll hunt for deals primarily at the following universities, which make up LP Quantum Delta’s “innovation hubs”: 

  • TU Delft
  • Eindhoven University of Technology 
  • Leiden University 
  • The University of Twente
  • The University of Amsterdam

Alongside cash for equity, QDNL Participations will also offer promising quantum teams €50k as part of a SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) convertible note. SAFEs are an investment tool that allow an investor to back a startup without having to agree on a valuation then and there — they convert into equity at a later date. QDNL Participations expects to make 10-15 SAFE investments.

The fund is interested in both quantum hardware and software startups working on technology like:

  • Chips and processors
  • Sensors
  • Algorithms
  • Networks and communications
  • Simulations and modelling 

QDNL Participations has already backed four startups with SAFEs. Quantum processor startup Quantware, quantum network platform QBird, quantum simulation startup Fermioniq and another quantum startup still in stealth.

Government-backed quantum

Quantum Delta’s backing of QDNL Participations comes following the Dutch National Growth Fund pumping €615m into the foundation in 2021. Quantum Delta says the funds will be used to train thousands of researchers and engineers, scale 100 startups and host three corporate R&D labs in the Netherlands by 2027.

Quantum Delta is also using that cash to launch Infinity — a support programme looking to help Dutch researchers commercialise their tech and navigate the spinout process. 

It’s one of a growing number of government-backed quantum initiatives emerging in Europe, as the region looks to begin to challenge US and Chinese dominance in the sector. 

The UK government has invested more than £1bn in quantum tech through its National Quantum Technology Programme. Germany launched a €1bn fund to back climate and deeptech scaleups — including quantum — last month. France also plans to shell out €1.8bn on developing quantum tech by 2025.

Private investors are following the public money. Quantum startups raised $466m in 2022, according to Dealroom — more than double the total for 2021 and 10 times as much as 2019. That’s despite the downturn causing a dip in funds raised for most sectors in European tech. 

The region also saw its first quantum dedicated fund launch in 2022 — €91m Paris-based VC Quantonation — and is beginning to see its startups make major breakthroughs. 

Earlier this year, France’s PASQAL raised €100m and achieved a world first — when its quantum computer produced comparable results to a state-of-the-art classical computer.

Other recent raises in the quantum sector include:

  • Planqc, a German startup building a computer using “neutral atom” technology, raised a “seven-figure” sum in February;
  • Quantum Motion, which is building silicon-based quantum processors, raised £42m in what was the UK’s biggest quantum round, also in February.

Oxford Ionics, another UK startup building quantum processors, raised £30m in January

👉 Read: What do LPs want to see from first-time VC fund pitch decks?

Kai Nicol-Schwarz

Kai Nicol-Schwarz is a reporter at Sifted. He covers UK tech and healthtech, and can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn