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Bosch-backed VCs pour more funds into Brit quantum silicon chips

Pret and Starbucks rubbing hands with glee as some cash will go to larger London HQ

UK quantum computing startup Quantum Motion has raised £42 million ($50.5 million) in equity financing to help fund development of its silicon-based quantum chips and expand the size of the company's central London HQ.

Led by academics from UCL and Oxford University, Quantum Motion is one of the companies seeking to scale up and commercialize quantum processors by using the same fabrication processes used to make CMOS semiconductors.

This funding round was led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital with Porsche Automobil Holding SE and British Patient Capital, while the company said that existing investors from earlier rounds have also taken part, including Oxford Science Enterprises, Inkef, Parkwalk Advisors, Octopus Ventures, IP Group and NSSIF. It brings the total investment raised so far to £62 million ($74.6 million).

Quantum Motion said it has already made a series of peer-reviewed breakthroughs to show that silicon can be a cost-effective and scalable way of producing the millions of qubits that are needed to create fully-functional, fault tolerant quantum computers.

Last October, the company demonstrated it could successfully measure the state of the quantum dots on one of its silicon chips, with 1,024 quantum dots covering an area of less than 0.1mm capable of being measured within 12 minutes. The chip was manufactured in a "tier one foundry" to illustrate that the technology can be produced using existing commercial processes.

That was just one in a sequence of milestones along the path towards building quantum computers, the company said. It has now designed and validated integrated circuits capable of generating, routing and processing signals at deep cryogenic temperatures, a few tenths of a degree above absolute zero.

"The support of leading technology investors enables us to realise our vision of a quantum computer built using standard foundry processes. This support, along with the continuing UK national quantum programme and European initiatives, provides a step-change in our capabilities," said chief executive James Palles-Dimmock.

However, times are getting tough for quantum startups. With reliable quantum systems still expected to be years away, such companies have to convince investors to keep putting money in, even as an economic downturn bites in other sectors of the technology market.

Earlier this month Rigetti, a prominent quantum startup and one of the first to IPO, announced it was to lose circa 28 percent of the workforce as part of an updated business plan and was working to avoid being delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange.

But Quantum Motion's investors seem happy for the present. In a statement, Porsche SE board member Lutz Meschke said the company's approach has great potential with respect to cost-effective scalability and deployment of quantum computing into various industries.

"We are looking forward to supporting one of the world's leading teams in the development and industrialisation of this technology," he said. ®

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