Venture capital is backing Australian research into quantum computing

An ion trap used to confine individual atoms. Image: University of Sydney

Quantum computing research in Australia is going commercial.

Q-Ctrl Pty Ltd, the first spin-off company from the University of Sydney’s Quantum Science Group, has been established with the support of Australian and international venture capital.

The size of the investment hasn’t been revealed but sources described the seed capital injection as in the multimillions of dollars.

Professor Michael J. Biercuk is transitioning from quantum physicist to CEO of the startup which will provide solutions to stabilise quantum technologies. He will jointly hold positions in the company and University.

“We aim to become the trusted provider of quantum control solutions for all quantum technologies,” he says.

Q-Ctrl has attracted multimillion dollar investment from both Main Sequence Ventures – the manager of CSIRO’s innovation fund – and an international venture capital firm.

“Quantum technology, harnessing the strangest effects in quantum physics as resources, will be as transformational in the 21st century as harnessing electricity was in the 19th,” says Biercuk.

He explains in this clip:

The quantum economy will double to $10 billion in the next decade, according to Morgan Stanley forecasts.

“Quantum computing in particular promises to totally upend the way we process information, rendering previously uncomputable problems manageable — from the chemistry underpinning pharmaceutical discoveries to major challenges in codebreaking and materials science,” says Biercuk.

Phil Morle, partner at Main Sequence Ventures, says quantum computing is an unstoppable new industry.

He says the Australians are developing solutions which will accelerate the development of the global industry.

Despite the promise of quantum computing, the underlying hardware is highly susceptible to errors.

Quantum bits, or qubits — the fundamental carriers of information in quantum computers — degrade rapidly.

Reducing and controlling qubit errors will be essential for quantum devices to scale up to machines that are useful.

That’s where Q-Ctrl comes in, developing firmware for quantum computing.

Biercuk says quantum control is a powerful tool to improve the performance of quantum devices, preventing errors even before they accumulate.

“The firmware tools Q-Ctrl is building have had their performance validated in the lab and show orders of magnitude improvement in reducing qubit errors without the need for changing the underlying hardware,” he says.