Sydney's Q-CTRL leaps into top-10 of global quantum tech start-ups

11 September 2019
Q-CTRL's success reflects more than a decade of investment in long-term, fundamental science. The company is now a global partner for the emerging quantum tech industry.
Professor Michael J. Biercuk at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub at the University of Sydney Nano Institute.

Professor Michael J. Biercuk at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub at the University of Sydney.

The quantum technology company started by Professor Michael J. Biercuk from the University of Sydney has today announced a $US15 million ($22 million) venture capital fundraising round, which catapults Q-CTRL into the top-10 of global quantum start-ups.

“This funding is an exceptional acknowledgement of the value we’re adding to the quantum community and a statement of support for our global ambitions,” Professor Biercuk said.

New funding for Q-CTRL is led by Australia’s largest venture capital fund Square Peg Capital and adds a new syndicate member, Silicon Valley’s Sierra Ventures.

The round also includes participation from existing investors including Sequoia Capital, Main Sequence Ventures, and Horizons Ventures.

This investment places Q-CTRL in the top-10 most successful fundraisers globally in the emerging quantum technology industry and constitutes one of Australia’s largest venture-capital deals for 2019.

Solving the hardest problems

Q-CTRL specialises in solving one of the hardest problems in quantum computing – the inherent instability of hardware. Quantum computers are notoriously fragile; the machines being developed now by companies such as IBM, Rigetti and Google can only run operations for very short periods before errors creep in and programs fail. 

That fragility puts at risk the potential promise of quantum computers to revolutionise drug discovery, chemistry, materials science and even computations for finance.

Q-CTRL’s web-based suite of infrastructure software is based on a decade of research undertaken at the University of Sydney’s Quantum Control Laboratory run by Professor Biercuk.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison said: “This is a wonderful story about long-term investment in basic science leading to an outstanding commercial outcome for Australia. We congratulate Mike on his continuing success.”

Q-CTRL’s solutions are demonstrated in peer-reviewed journals to reduce hardware-error susceptibility by orders of magnitude, accelerating the pathway to the first commercially relevant quantum computers. 

The company currently has Rigetti, Bleximo, Accenture, and others as customers. Last year it was chosen as the first company outside North America to be included in IBM's Q Network of start-ups working to advance the emerging quantum computing industry.

Professor Biercuk said: “This capital raise will support major growth for the company, roughly doubling the 25-member team of quantum engineers and software developers. It will also support geographic expansion to include a new office in Los Angeles, bringing Q-CTRL staff closer to core customers in the US. It’s a thrilling time for the team and this emerging industry.”

About Q-CTRL

Q-CTRL was founded in November 2017 and is a venture-capital-backed company that provides control-engineering software solutions helping customers harness the power of quantum physics in next-generation technologies.

Q-CTRL is built on Professor Biercuk’s research leading the Quantum Control Lab at the University of Sydney, where he is a Professor of Quantum Physics and Quantum Technology.

The team’s expertise led Q-CTRL to be selected as an inaugural member of the IBM Q startup network last year. Q-CTRL is funded by SquarePeg Capital, Sierra Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Data Collective, Horizons Ventures, and Main Sequence Ventures.

In February 2019 it was named one of the 10 top quantum computing startups to watch by tech publication Network World.

About Michael Biercuk

Professor Michael J. Biercuk is an award-winning experimental quantum physicist and CEO & founder of Q-CTRL. He is one of the world’s leading experts in the new emerging field of quantum technology.

Michael also holds the positions of Director of the University of Sydney’s Quantum Control Lab and Chief Investigator in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems. He was educated in the United States, earning a PhD in Physics from Harvard University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.

He served as a technical consultant to DARPA, the premier research funding agency in the US from 2005-08, providing advice on strategic technology investments. He moved to Australia in 2010 as a senior academic at the University of Sydney and was promoted to Full Professor at the age of 37. 

He is a TEDxSydney and SXSW speaking alumnus, is the recipient of the 2015 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher and was a finalist in the 2019 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for ‘Promoting Understanding of Science’.

Funding declaration

Q-CTRL is funded by Horizons Ventures, Square Peg Capital, Sierra Ventures, DCVC and Main Sequence Ventures. The University of Sydney holds no equity in the company. Professor Biercuk holds a joint position with the University and Q-CTRL.

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