Quantum Computing Startup Gets $32 Million in Funding

By Bruce Harpham Monday, November 9, 2020

ColdQuanta, a quantum computing startup in Boulder, Colorado, recently raised $32 million from investors in its Series A round. In total, the company has raised $48 million from investors. The company also enjoys government support through contracts and research and development programs, amounting to more than $30 million.

ColdQuanta Is on the International Space Station

ColdQuanta technology has already been to space. In late 2019, a SpaceX rocket launched ColdQuanta technology to the International Space Station (ISS). The startup contributed components to the ISS’s Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL).

Scientists are studying the behavior of matter at low temperatures for a few reasons. According to NASA, “When atoms are cooled to extreme temperatures, as they will be inside of CAL, they can form a distinct state of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. In this state, familiar rules of physics recede, and quantum physics begins to take over.”

Relatively few startups have the same claim to fame as ColdQuanta. Space research requires highly durable products capable of withstanding high amounts of vibrations, gravity changes, and other changes. Participating in a NASA research project will also help ColdQuanta raise its profile in the research community.

What Does ColdQuanta Do?

Founded in 2007, ColdQuanta is developing quantum computing technology for several applications. The company currently produces hardware and accessories that are built into other labs and systems. For instance, the QuCAL Ultracold Atom laboratory is a self-contained research product for universities and companies exploring ultracold atom research.

Aside from support research projects, ColdQuanta is expected to impact several industries. Early indications suggest that the company’s products will improve signal processing, positioning systems, and communications.

Three Applied Ways to Use Quantum Computing

While ColdQuanta is best known for creating products for research scientists, it is expanding beyond that market. The company’s Quantum Core Application Systems is designed for application in three areas.

ColdQuanta’s contribution to precision sensors could significantly improve GPS accuracy, Internet of Things devices, and self-driving cars. ColdQuanta estimates that quantum technology can improve sensor technology accuracy by up to 10,000 times. That level of accuracy improvement might just be enough to overcome public skepticism about autonomous vehicles.

For decades, atomic clocks have been considered the most accurate timekeeping devices in the world. Accurate timekeeping makes a critical difference in multiple industries, including Internet communications, global positioning technology, and TV broadcasting. The NIST-F1, in operation since 1999, has “accuracy to about one second in 20 million years,” according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

In contrast, ColdQuanta tested a quantum clock in July 2019 that would lose only one second every 33.7 billion years. Given that the universe is estimated to be 13.8 billion years old, according to NASA, such a quantum computer is close to timekeeping perfection.

The third and final application for ColdQuanta’s technology focuses on improving secure communications. The company claims that the resulting security improvements could lead to an “unhackable internet.”

ColdQuanta’s Investors

ColdQuanta is supported by multiple investors interested in quantum computing technology. As of November 2020, ColdQuanta’s investors include Global Frontier Investments, LCP Quantum Partners, Maverick Ventures, and the Foundry Group.

The Foundry Group has invested in other successful startups such as YesWare, a sales automation software company, and Admeld, acquired by Google. Maverick Ventures’s investment track record includes Groupon and Zenefits. Global Frontier Investments has been one of ColdQuanta’s longest supporters, with initial investments in 2018.

The Visionaries Leading ColdQuanta

Breaking new ground in advanced research equipment is easier when you understand the needs of researchers. Fortunately, the people behind ColdQuanta have impressive qualifications. Robert “Bo” Ewald, President and CEO of the company, started his career at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and worked at Cray, the supercomputer company. Professor Dana Z. Anderson, ColdQuanta’s co-founder, and CTO is also the Director of the Quantum Applied Science and Engineering (QASE) at CU Boulder and a pioneer in cold atom research.

Other Companies Are Investing in Quantum Tech

ColdQuanta is far from alone in advancing the frontiers of quantum technology. IBM has made several moves in quantum computing, including investing in Cambridge Quantum Computing in 2018. Since 2012, Nature reports that investors have supported over 50 quantum computing companies. If a company can deliver quantum encryption strong enough to render all existing attacks obsolete, that product could become the first killer quantum computing product.

Today, the quantum computing market is relatively small. According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, “The quantum computing market [was] valued [at] $507.1 million in 2019.” This market is projected to be worth billions by the end of the decade.

About the Author

Headshot for author Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book "Project Managers At Work" shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

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