November was a banner month for quantum computing startups, with two raising rounds of $100 million for their superconducting and silicon spin qubit technology. Another significant round went to a company developing photonic-based systems. Several other companies drew funding, including one applying quantum sensors to semiconductor inspection.
Sizeable funding also went to an autonomous transit startup and several battery companies. Other notable investments involved companies developing sub-threshold power management, nanomaterials in transistors, and startups backed by NATO’s new accelerator. This report covers 59 companies that collectively raised $1.7 billion last month.
VSORA was awarded $13.2M in grant and equity funding from the European Innovation Council Accelerator. VSORA develops silicon IP and chips for AI. A major focus for the company is ADAS and autonomous driving at L3 through L5. The startup says its multicore digital signal processor (DSP) and deep learning accelerator architecture eliminates the need for additional DSP co-processors and AI hardware accelerators, while providing a software level of flexibility. In addition to support for CNN and RNN, its Tyr chip family is also capable of handling newer types of algorithms, such as transformers, BEVformer, and federated learning. Earlier this year, VSORA introduced a chiplet-based scalable accelerator solution for generative AI inference with an architecture it claims enables data to be fed to the processing units 100% of the time regardless of the number of compute elements. It is also targeting signal processing for digital communications systems. Founded in 2015, it is based in Meudon-La-Forêt, France.
Spherical Systems drew €1.0M (~$1.1M) in pre-seed investment and grants led by UNIIQ, joined by Graduate Entrepreneur Fund, Rabobank, and angel investors. Spherical Systems develops space-grade chips for electronic subsystems in satellites. Funds will be used to product the first iterations of its chips and develop the first systems. Founded in 2022, it is based in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
Manufacturing & equipment
SMT Intelligence received a CAD 68.0M (~$49.7M) investment from Fonds de solidarité FTQ. SMT provides PCBA, electronic, and electromechanical circuit manufacturing from prototyping to mass production. It manufactures standard PCBs alongside various other types including flexible, ceramic, and aluminum. Founded in 2001, it is based in Laval, Québec, Canada.
Test, measurement & inspection
QuantumDiamonds raised €7.0M (~$7.7M) in seed and grant funding from IQ Capital, Earlybird Venture Capital, Onsight Ventures, First Momentum, Creator Fund, UnternehmerTUM, and the European Innovation Council Accelerator. QuantumDiamonds makes quantum sensors based on nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamonds. The sensors can be used for magnetic field sensing, magnetic field imaging, and temperature sensing. The company says a quantum diamond microscope made with its technology can be used to identify defects such as current leakages by detecting the small vector magnetic field generated by current through an IC or PCB with a high spatial resolution. The technology also has applications in battery development, chemical analysis, and medical diagnostics. Funds will be used to launch its first commercial product and hire. Founded in 2022, it is based in Munich, Germany.
Niron Magnetics drew $33.0M in financing from GM Ventures and Stellantis Ventures, previous investors Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the University of Minnesota, and others. Niron Magnetics makes high-performance permanent magnets based on iron nitride and free of rare earths. High-performance magnets have applications in hard drives as well as EV drive trains, consumer appliances, audio speakers, and industrial and commercial spaces such as wind turbines, elevators, and HVAC. Niron claims its magnets are less expensive and have inherently higher magnetization than rare earth alternatives. Funds will be used to expand its current pilot production facilities and scale manufacturing capacity. Founded in 2015 as a spin off from the University of Minnesota, it is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Chiral Nano received a CHF 0.2M (~$0.2M) award from the Venture Kick accelerator. Chiral Nano is developing nanomaterial-based transistors with a bridging carbon nanotube. It is working on a scalable manufacturing process to grow, select, and automatically integrate nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes or graphene into transistors at high speed, high quality, and with full process control. It says its nanotransistor technology is suitable for quantum processors and sensors. Founded in 2022 as a spin out from ETH and Empa, it is based in Zurich, Switzerland.
Nanopower Semiconductor was awarded €7.5M (~$8.0M) in grant and equity funding from the European Innovation Council Accelerator. Nanopower Semiconductor has developed a subthreshold power management IC for a battery-constrained system’s wireless chip, processor, and sensors. It says the architecture enables devices to operate without an active microcontroller in the nanoampere-range during periods without wireless communication while keeping monitoring and other functions intact. Founded in 2017, it is based in Kristiansand, Norway.
Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC) announced a $100.0M Series B round led by SBI Investment, joined by Oxford Science Enterprises, University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners, Lansdowne Partners, and Oxford Investment Consultants. OQC develops quantum computers based on superconducting qubits implemented within a coaxmon architecture. The three-dimensional architecture brings key components off-chip, which the company says increases simplicity, flexibility, and scalability. OQC also debuted its upgradeable 32-qubit platform that can be deployed in commercial data centers. Based in Shinfield, UK, it was founded in 2017.
Photonic raised $100.0M in funding from British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, Microsoft, the UK government’s National Security Strategic Investment Fund, Inovia Capital, and Amadeus Capital Partners. Photonic is developing distributed quantum computing and networking platforms based on photonically linked silicon spin qubits, an approach it says is scalable and fault tolerant. Photonic links in silicon deliver quantum entanglement not only between qubits on the same chip but also among multiple quantum chips. The highly connected qubit architecture also enables use of efficient quantum error correction codes. By using a qubit with a photon interface, the architecture can communicate using ultralow-loss telecommunications band fibers to support quantum key distribution (QKD), post-quantum cryptography (PQC), blind computing, and quantum repeaters. Photonic will also collaborate with Microsoft on quantum communications over long distances. Founded in 2016, it is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and has raised $140M to date.
Read the full article: https://semiengineering.com/startup-funding-november-2023/