A Sydney University professor just raised $22 million to solve a big problem in quantum computing

- September 11, 2019 2 MIN READ

Square Peg Capital Partner Tushar Roy with Professor Michael Biercuk, founder and CEO of QCTRL. Photo: supplied

Quantum computing startup Q-CTRL has raised US$15 million (AU$22m) in a Series A round led by Square Peg Capital. 

Silicon Valley’s Sierra Ventures also joined the raise beside existing investors, including Sequoia Capital, Main Sequence Ventures, and Horizons Ventures.  

Founded in 2017 by Professor Michael J Biercuk, Professor of Quantum Physics & Quantum Technology at the University of Sydney, Q-CTRL builds “infrastructure software” to aid the development of quantum computers and other quantum technologies. It specialises in solving one of the hardest problems in quantum computing – hardware instability against noise and errors. Quantum computers are notoriously fragile and can only run operations for very short periods before errors creep in and programs fail. 

Q-CTRL’s “quantum firmware”  is a set of special low-level programs that allows quantum computing hardware to be more resistant against errors. Rigetti, Bleximo and Accenture are among the company’s customers.

The raise will support nearly doubling the existing 25-member team of quantum engineers and software developers, as well as global expansion, including a new office in Los Angeles. 

Square Peg Capital investment partner Tushar Roy says Q-CTRL has the potential to be instrumental in the future development of quantum computers. 

“Their technology also has applications beyond quantum computing, including in quantum-based sensing, which is a rapidly-growing market,” he said. 

“In Q-CTRL we found a rare combination of world-leading technical expertise with an understanding of customers, products and what it takes to build an impactful business.”   

Professor Biercuk, the company’s CEO, said it was “extraordinary” being at the vanguard of the birth of a new industry.

“We’re also thrilled to be assembling one of the most impressive investor syndicates in quantum technology.  Finding investors who understand and embrace both the promise and the challenge of building quantum computers is almost magical.” 

Q-CTRL was selected as an inaugural member of the IBM Q startup network in 2018 and earlier this year was named one of the 10 top quantum computing startups to watch by tech publication Network World. 

Biercuk is a world expert on quantum technology, having earned a PhD in Physics from Harvard University. He moved to Australia in 2010 and won the 2015 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher, and this year was named a finalist in the Eureka Prize for ‘Promoting Understanding of Science’.