Though 2022 ended with talk of a “quantum winter”, the appetite VCs have for backing quantum startups hasn’t completely waned.
So far in Europe this year:
- Paris-based PASQAL has raised €100m in a round led by Singapore-based Temasek.
- London and Oxford-based Quantum Motion has raised £42m — the largest ever round for a quantum startup in the UK.
- Dutch quantum-focused investor QDNL Participations has closed a €15m fund to help university quantum spinouts scale.
While investors are beginning to realise that the day when quantum computing technology can outperform classical computers on a mass-market scale is still a long way off, many think the sector has huge potential.
To spotlight some of Europe’s most promising young quantum startups, Sifted asked four investors with experience of backing founders in the sector to pick out some of their favourites.
Here are Europe’s quantum startups to watch.
Dmitry Galperin, general partner — Runa Capital
Based in Luxembourg and founded in 2010, Runa Capital invests in deeptech companies across Europe. Its quantum investments include sensor technology company Qnami, quantum networking company Welinq and quantum computing builder Paris-based PASQAL.
This France-based startup is aiming to make MRI accessible to all via quantum technology. MRI is a very powerful medical imaging technique, but existing MRI machines rely on superconducting magnets, which are bulky and require a cryogenic environment so are therefore very expensive. Chipiron is building more affordable machines which would use “SQUIDs”, very sensitive quantum magnetometers which ease requirements in the magnetic fields.
This French startup is developing a silicon-based quantum computer, LINK QM. The game here is to master the control of the “spin qubit”. Typically the spin of electrons are confined in quantum dots — a nanometre-sized semiconductor particle — on a chip. This approach would allow the future production of quantum computers at scale.
A German startup designing quantum algorithms to solve real-world business problems. While the universal quantum computer is still years away, Kipu is developing algorithms optimised for the capabilities of today's quantum hardware, squeezing the maximum from available qubits.
Gernot Berger, senior investment manager — High-Tech Gründerfonds
High-Tech Gründerfonds is a public-private deeptech investor, based in Bonn. It’s been investing since 2005 and has backed startups like quantum internet developer Delft-based QphoX, Sheffield-based quantum photonics startup Aegiq and Karlsruhe-based quantum simulation software provider HQS Quantum Simulations.
This Netherlands-based startup develops photonic circuit-based components and modules in scalable volumes, with assembly and packaging services, and could become a key enabler for many other quantum startups. Its engineers assist with design optimisation and provide a one-stop shop for customer needs.
Another Netherlands-based company, which develops optical quantum processing and simulation solutions. It was awarded a €14m contract by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to implement a prototype photonic quantum computer within the next four years. Quix's work can substantially contribute to the development and progress of the quantum ecosystem, especially in the field of photonics
This Grenoble-based spinout from the Néel Institute develops synthetic diamonds for microelectronics, which can withstand extreme conditions. The company’s solution has great potential as a substitute for silicon in various applications. The company's technology can be applied in areas such as electric vehicles, the internet of things, healthcare and quantum sensors.
With the aid of its proprietary photonic design automation tools and all-optical logic gates, Berlin-based Akhetonics is uniquely positioned to create digital computation devices that run on optical processing alone. The company is currently focusing on developing an all-optical RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processor that will be innately compatible with quantum computers.
Andreas Riegler, partner — Amadeus Apex Technology Fund
Amadeus Apex is a new deeptech fund founded in February 2023, as a partnership between Cambridge-based Amadeus Capital Partners and Vienna-based Apex Ventures. The new fund has already invested in Munich-based quantum computer developer planqc, while Apex has previously invested in quantum cooling prodiver Kiutra. Amadeus’s quantum investments include quantum software provider River Lane and quantum security provider Nu Quantum.
Based in Finland, Algorithmiq is harnessing the potential of quantum computing to solve complex problems in life sciences and realise a paradigm shift in drug discovery and development. Founded by a team of world-leading academics in the field, the company aims to leverage the power of quantum computing so that new drugs can be discovered, invented and brought to market quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively, leading to more precise medical treatments.
Poland-based BEIT provides forward-looking, hardware-agnostic quantum algorithms followed by hardware design recommendations intended to accelerate the benefits of business-relevant quantum computing. It's two to three years ahead of the game in the quantum business, led by an extremely experienced team of tech founders from Motorola and Google, coupled with a strong R&D team.
Based in Austria, ParityQC is the only quantum architecture company worldwide focusing on developing blueprints and operating systems for quantum computers, such as optimisation and error-correcting. The company is spearheaded by an international team of quantum experts with strong academic ties, including Magdalena Hauser and Wolfgang Lechner.
Stuart Woods, chief operating and strategy officer — Quantum Exponential
Founded in 2021, London-based Quantum Exponential invests in quantum technologies with a focus on NATO and allied countries. Its investments to date include London-based quantum encryption provider Arqit, Oxford-based quantum computing Oxford Quantum Circuits and Cardiff-based, quantum-powered greenhouse gas detection startup QLM.
Molecular Quantum Solutions (MQS)
Based in Denmark, this startup provides computational tools to accelerate research and development efforts by the pharma, biotech and chemical industries. Fully automated quantum chemistry calculations can be accessed through MQS's dashboard and API, bypassing the necessity of costly, time-intensive laboratory experiments. The company is currently raising funds.
Powered by its patented technology and a first-of-its-kind photonic chip, the company is delivering the most advanced randomness generation, monitoring and processing solutions available today. Its scalable quantum random number generators (QRNGs) leverage quantum indeterminacy and have the potential to revolutionise cybersecurity. It recently raised a Series A led by Trumpf Ventures & Bullnet Capital.
This Austria-based company has a world-class team and advisory board. Its latest venture — which is still in very early stages (pre-website) spun out after 20 years of research — is Quantum Industries focusing on fibre-based quantum communication.