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Quantum Optics Jena completes ‘seven figure euro’ seed funding

16 Feb 2021

Fraunhofer IOF start-up working to develop photonics-based high-security QKD communication systems and other products.

Becoming a pioneer company for high-security quantum communication – nothing less is the goal of new startup Quantum Optics Jena (QOJ).

The latest spin-off from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (IOF) is developing quantum-based solutions for communication systems. This week the founding team announced that it has gathered the necessary investor support for the Jena-based operation.

QOJ stated on February 10th, “the security and sovereignty of data is secured by complex mathematical algorithms and cryptography solutions. With the highly dynamic development of quantum computing, completely new types of computing power are becoming possible, posing a threat to classical encryption methods.

“Quantum physics also provides the answer to this challenge: based on physical laws, quantum optics enables completely new concepts for generating encryption methods and the physically secure transmission of information. Here, the secure key for the encryption and exchange of information is performed by quantum physical methods. This quantum key distribution (QKD) enables the physically measurable secure exchange of information.”

Know-how from Fraunhofer IOF

The Fraunhofer IOF has already been active in the field of quantum communication and quantum imaging for several years. Dr. Oliver de Vries, CTO of QOJ, commented, “In recent years, we have been able to demonstrate technological readiness for entangled photon sources at the Fraunhofer IOF, and as Quantum Optics Jena we are now combining the natural laws of quantum mechanics with expertise in the development and production of optical systems to offer socially exploitable solutions.”

CEO Dr. Kevin Füchsel added, “Our goal is to establish a pioneering company for tap-proof communication in information technology in the heart of Germany.”

Prof. Andreas Tünnermann, director of the Fraunhofer IOF, welcomed the devdelopment: “Quantum technology is one of the most groundbreaking research and development fields of our time. I am pleased to see how young founders transfer their knowledge gained at Fraunhofer IOF into their own companies and thus into new innovations.”

Investment opportunity

The investors comprise the triumvirate of ELAS Technologies GmbH, Fraunhofer Technologie-Transfer Fonds GmbH and beteiligungsmangement Thüringen (bm|t). They confirmed that they have invested “a seven-digit euro amount” in QOJ.

“We are pleased to have put together an outstanding team of investors for QOJ in recent weeks,” said Matthias Keckl from Fraunhofer Technologie-Transfer Fonds. “Now the company has the necessary clout to build up and quickly implement their ideas.”

The QOJ team intends to work intensively on the realization of its first own product: a compact and high-performance entangled photon source for quantum key distribution or quantum optical experiments.

Dr. de Vries added, “In the next step we will be able to provide our customers with complete QKD systems to counter cyber-attacks and the threat of quantum computing.” The QOJ team continues to work closely with Fraunhofer IOF and is currently working on a new product for quantum imaging, which could soon find application in medical technology or materials analysis.

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