Quantum computing has made quantum leaps in progress over the past few years, moving from a theoretical concept to multiple test environments to help organizations prepare for a time when quantum computers and their unparalleled processing power become a reality at scale. Now in the UK Oxford Quantum Circuits announces £38 million ($47 million) in funding to fuel the growth of its own investment in the space, a proprietary 3D processor architecture it calls. Coaxmon, plus quantum-computing-as-a-service that will run on top of it. OQC says this Series A is the largest to date for a UK-based quantum computing startup.
“We are working at pace and our systems are being optimized. We will continue to increase and decrease the error rate,” OQC founding executive director Ilana Visby said in an interview. “Our vision is seamless quantum access.”
Lansdowne Partners and deep-tech fund The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) out of Japan are co-leading the round, which also includes British Patient Capital, Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE) and Oxford Investment Consultants (OIC). OSE and OIC have previously led the £2.2m start-up, which began life as a specialist at the University of Oxford and the work done there by quantum physicist (and OQC founder) Dr Peter Leake.
The plan will be to use the funding to continue hiring more talent (it now has 60 employees), continue to improve access to quantum computing for programmers who want to work with it, and continue to build out its computing infrastructure, which today is based on an 8-qubit machine. : And as you might guess from the list of investors, it will also use some of the funds to expand into Asia-Pacific, and Japan in particular, to attract potential customers in financial services and beyond.
“Quantum computing promises to be the next frontier of innovation, and OQC, with its state-of-the-art Coaxmon technology, aims to integrate the cutting edge of modern physics into our everyday lives,” said UTEC Director Lenny Chin. in the statement. “UTEC is honored to be part of OQC’s mission to make quantum technology accessible to all and will support OQC’s expansion in the Asia-Pacific region by partnering with academia, including the University of Tokyo, and partnering with Japan’s leading financial and technology corporations.”
Wisby told me that the OQC actually started raising this Series A before the pandemic, back in early 2020; but he decided to drop the process and go grants instead build the company in its earlier stages.
This has taken OQC quite far, progressing from a 1-qubit to a 2-qubit, then a 4-qubit and now currently an 8-qubit machine.
The startup also already provides services to a number of customers who run either on OQC’s private cloud or through Amazon Bracket:, AWS’s quantum computing platform, which also provides developers with access to other quantum as a service providers such as Rigetti, IonQ, and D-Wave. (The OQC says its quantum computer, called Lucy, is the first European quantum provider on Braket — a key detail for companies and quantum researchers outside Europe who must comply with data protection laws by storing data and processing them locally. this gives them a local version.)
Among its clients are: Cambridge Quantwhich works its Iron bridge code number generator on OQC’s computer; financial services companies; molecular dynamics researchers; government organizations and large multinationals with in-house R&D teams working on systems that can run on quantum machines when they eventually roll out.
“Ultimately” is the operative word here. the real promise of quantum computing is massive computing power, but a quantum computer that can achieve this at scale without also introducing too many errors has yet to be built.
But these days, it seems that the hopes are high not on “if” but “when” that hurdle will be overcome. “We’ve gone beyond theory,” Wisby said.
That led to a big wave of two big tech players like IBM, Amazon: and: The alphabet to be involved, as well as a number from smaller startups, and companies like Rigetti, IonQ, and D-Wave that fall between those two poles. While there are some preferences for building and selling quantum devices, the economics don’t make sense for most potential use cases, so for now most of the effort is around cloud quantum, offering it as an infrastructure-free, use-as-you-need computing service.
While Oxford Quantum Circuits’ 8-qubit computer isn’t the biggest in the industry, Wisby says one of the reasons it’s picking up users and making this investment in a tough fundraising environment is that its platform is better than it makes it. less errors than others.
“We’re all working toward larger scale processes,” Wisby said. But, he added, there is something to be said for better quality and fewer errors. “We have a low error rate and the funding will enable us to take the next steps.”
Another important addition to the process is the fact that regions and countries are looking to support industry leaders early on to help strengthen their respective positions in that next-generation technology, and therefore support from Oxford Quantum Circuits is considered a part. that strategy. British Patient Capital provides strategic support in this matter. it is the investment arm of the British Business Bank, a government-owned bank focused on business and industry development in the UK.
“Since launching the UK’s first commercial quantum computer, we continue to be impressed by both the technical developments and OQC’s future ambitions,” said Peter Davies, partner and head of developed markets strategy at Lansdowne Partners. statement. “We are very excited to invest in this innovative and forward-looking company.”