The European Quantum Computing Startup Landscape

Almost exactly a year ago, in October 2019, Google researchers claimed to have attained a pivotal quantum computing milestone (i.e. quantum supremacy: the point where quantum computers can do things that classical computers cannot) for the first time in a paper published in Nature. Google’s 53-qubit quantum computer, named Sycamore, took 200 seconds to perform a calculation that would have taken the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years.

In more recent weeks, more exciting news was coming out of the quantum research labs of several companies: IBM announced its updated quantum roadmap and predicted to have developed a 1,000-qubit machine by 2023 (IBM’s current quantum processor has 65 qubits). D-Wave revealed the launch of its new Advantage quantum computers based on a quantum annealing approach with over 5,000 qubits and made it available through its Leap cloud computing platform. Trapped-ion quantum computing startup IonQ claimed to have built the world’s most powerful quantum computer yet with 32 qubits. European quantum computing startup IQM published a quantum computing breakthrough in Nature after having developed an ultra-sensitive nanoscale bolometer that detects very faint microwave radiation which can be used to measure the energy of photons (and thus the state of a superconducting qubit) much more accurately.

In this article, I won’t dive into the fundamental quantum concepts such as decoherence, entanglement, superposition, or NISQ, but leave it to the experts to explain those concepts (a good primer on quantum computing can be found here). Instead, I will focus on the quantum computing startup activity in Europe and will answer the following questions: What are the recent developments in quantum science? What are the leading research institutes for quantum technologies across Europe? What does the current startup activity in quantum technologies look like? What different funding mechanisms are available for startups in the field? How do funding levels differ across categories and countries? What are the most attractive market segments from a VC point of view? Below is a summary of some of the findings.