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Quantum Motion takes big step in quantum computing with £42M funding round

Quantum Motion's leadership team (L-R): James Palles-Dimmock (CEO), Prof John Morton (CTO), Anna Stockklauser (VP Product), Prof Simon Benjamin (CSO), Jane Osborne-Buglear (COO)
Image credit: Quantum Motion

London-based computing scale-up Quantum Motion has closed a £42 million funding round. The funding brings their investment total to over £62 million, and will accelerate the development of their silicon quantum processors and treble the size of their London headquarters.

The round was led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital, who were joined by Porsche SE and British Patient Capital. All the previous investors — Inkef, IP Group, NSSIF, Octopus Ventures, Oxford Sciences Enterprises and Parkwalk Advisors — also participated.

In a exclusive conversation, Quantum Motion’s CTO, Professor John Morton, answered TFN’s questions about Quantum Motion and quantum computing.

A step-change in computing potential

Perhaps the trickiest part of quantum computing is understanding what it involves. You don’t need to fully understand your phone or computer to grasp basic concepts and to understand that traditional advances have seen chips become smaller, faster, and more powerful. Quantum computing, however, does not just advance that process, it transforms it.

“You’ll hear the term superposition in quantum computing, meaning that unlike classical computers that work on ones and zeros, quantum bits can be the equivalent of one, zero and anywhere in between at the same time.” And if that wasn’t already a difficult concept, Morton admits it’s an over-simplification, “the reality is slightly more technical to explain, but what it means is that quantum computers can use that superposition to process data exponentially faster.”

Since being founded in 2017, Quantum Motion has set several records that move the world closer to practical quantum computing. These include isolating a single electron on a silicon transistor, reading 1,024 quantum dots in a 0.1 mm² area, and demonstrating the mass manufacture of quantum processes on silicon chips with their ‘Bloomsbury’ chip.

Their name hints at their London location, an unusual choice for a sector that usually occupies large server-centres in out-of-town science parks. But choosing a dense urban location reflects what they are developing. “Our approach offers qubit densities that are as much as a million times greater than other leading approaches,” Morton explains. The location is not just about attracting the best talent, which is easier in London, but also demonstrating the value of their approach. Envisaging chips that, even with their cooling system, can fit standard server racks, Morton sees their location as part of the proof of quantum computing’s practical applications. “Being able to show that our approach to quantum computing doesn’t require data centres the size of football pitches or vast CERN-type facilities was one of the motivations behind our central London location.”

Quantum Motion’s ability to move quantum computing closer to the mainstream was one of the key factors behind Robert Bosch Venture Capital’s involvement, explains Investment Partner Jan Westerhues. “Quantum Motion has the potential to become one of the world’s most important quantum computing companies by solving the problem of how to realise qubits using conventional silicon manufacturing,” he said. “It has demonstrated that it can take quantum theory out of a lab into the real world to create a scalable path to a quantum future.”

The dawn of a new computer age

Morton points out that quantum computing is still in its infancy. Like any technology, it’s impossible to fully or accurately predict how it will change the world, but the potential is there. “It’s important to remember that we are at the dawn of quantum computers. We’re making the technological breakthroughs that will underpin how these quantum computers will function,” Morton says.

Morton suggests some areas where quantum computing might have a positive impact, such as medical research, or breakthroughs in energy storage and management. But he recognises that the potential of quantum computing is unknown. He draws a parallel with the start of the computing age. “The first integrated circuit in 1958 led to the first silicon microprocessor in 1971. But it was hard for those in the 1960s witnessing the development of this new technology to predict the amazing things that silicon computing would lead to, and yet it has revolutionised our society.”

Indeed, like any scientist, Morton acknowledges the potential, but also wants to celebrate the process being made. “Quantum computers will be the most powerful computers ever built, and we’re pushing the boundaries of the laws of physics to get there. That’s exciting enough!”

However, for him, progress will really start to be made when quantum computing becomes more accessible, a key goal of Quantum Motion’s research. Returning to the comparison with the development of the modern computer, Morton reflects, “it was only when computers got into the hands of people everywhere that we got creative and pushed the boundaries of what computers can do. Quantum computing will be similar, we know that it will be transformative in areas like drug discovery, battery technology and more, but we won’t know just how transformative they’ll become until we get there.” Quantum Motion will be playing a key role in getting there, he says, “that’s the breakthrough with Bloomsbury: we’re able to show how there’s a clear path to using silicon technology for quantum computing, which is going to make it faster and cheaper to get there and get quantum computers into more people’s hands.”

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