Terra Quantum, the Swiss startup offering quantum computing as a service over the cloud, raised a whopping $60m Series A funding round, a sign that investors, even in Europe, are willing to take bigger bets on the emerging technology.
Terra Quantum’s investors include Swiss VC firm Lakestar, which has backed the company since its seed round in 2019, as well as two large German family offices and an influential cryptocurrency investor, all of whom have opted to remain anonymous.
The size of the funding round shows that Europe has moved a long way from the dark days of 2019 when promising British quantum computing company PsiQuantum moved its team to Silicon Valley in order to get better access to finance. To be fair, PsyQuantum — which is building a quantum computer based on photonics — has raised nearly $1bn to date, far more than any European quantum company. But the gap is narrowing.
Last year Arqit, a UK-based company building a quantum cryptography system delivered by satellite, raised $70m through a SPAC listing.
Recent funding rounds for European quantum computing companies
- IQM Quantum Computers (Finland) €40m seed round, Nov 2021
- Quandela (France) €15m Series A round, Nov 2021
- Multiverse (Spain) €10m seed round, Oct 2021
- Seedblink (Romania) €1.2m Series A round, Jul 2021
- KETS Quantum Security (UK) €3.1m early VC round, Jun 2021
- Pasqal (France) €25m Series A round, Jun 2021
- Arqit (UK) $70m SPAC placement, May 2021
- Riverlane (UK) £14.6m Series A, Jan 2021
Terra Quantum plans to use the funding to expand its footprint internationally. The company, which currently has offices in Switzerland and a quantum computing facility in Austria, will open an office in Munich’s Quantum Valley, as well as a hub in Silicon Valley led by Florian Neukart, the former director of Volkswagen’s quantum lab. Neukart is the latest big-name hire for the company, following Valerii Vinokur, a world-renowned physicist with a 30-year history of working at the US Argonne National Laboratory, who joined as co-CTO last year.
Quantum computing companies are all competing in a ferocious talent war at the moment as they seek to grow their teams. Terra Quantum employs about 100 people, 90% of which are on the R&D side.
“The talent war in quantum is a real threat right now,” Markus Pflitsch, founder and CEO of Terra Quantum, tells Sifted. “That is one of the reasons for doing the funding round.”
👉 Read: The different types of quantum computer startups, explained
Terra Quantum is one of a number of startups offering company quantum computing as a service. While quantum computers are still struggling to outdo classical computers for most operations, Pflitsch tells Sifted there are some problems where quantum can bring an advantage.
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One of the first is portfolio optimisation for banks. Banks need to compare thousands of data points across thousands of investments but the biggest high-performance computers take hours to run these calculations. Even today, Pflitsch says, a quantum algorithm could bring that time down to under an hour, generating more than $100m in cost savings for a bank over the year.
Spanish startup Multiverse is working on similar applications for financial services clients, another sign that real uses of quantum computing are already coming into use.