An Aussie-led quantum computing startup in Silicon Valley has closed a US$450 million ($611 million) Series D raise, reportedly giving it a valuation of US$3.15 billion ($4.3 billion).
Founded in 2016 and headed up by Australian co-founder and chief executive Jeremy O’Brien, PsiQuantum is working on building a fault-tolerant quantum computer that will have actual applications in the real world.
The startup has developed a technology whereby single particles of light, or photons, are patterned onto a silicon chip, which allows for fault-tolerant quantum computing, and can be manufactured at scale.
In May 2020, the business started manufacturing silicon photonic and electronic chips that will form the foundation of their Q1 system, marking a milestone in building its commercially viable product.
The round is led by BlackRock and also includes existing investors Baillie Gifford and M12, the venture fund of Microsoft.
Aussie VC Blackbird contributed for the first time, along with Temasek.
In a statement, O’Brien called quantum computing “the most profoundly world-changing technology uncovered to date”.
The funding is a “major vote of confidence” for the technology he’s been working on for the best part of five years.
“It is my conviction that the way to bring this technology into reality is by using photonics,” he explained.
“Our company was founded on the understanding that leveraging semiconductor manufacturing is the only way to deliver the million qubits that are known to be required for error correction, a prerequisite for commercially valuable quantum computing applications.”
In its investment notes for PsiQuantum, Blackbird said quantum computing has “the potential to be the most profound enabling technology of our lifetime, providing us with the tooling required to truly understand chemistry and biology for the first time”.
BlackRock managing director Tony Kim said a commercially viable, general-purpose quantum computer could have the potential to create whole new industries, “ready to address some of the most urgent challenges we face, especially in climate, healthcare and energy”.
PsiQuantum’s ability to deploy its tech within a relatively short time frame, and at scale, combined with its quantum architecture amounts to “the most promising approach we’ve seen to date”.