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Xanadu closes $100M funding to develop ‘fault-tolerant’ photonic quantum computer

27 May 2021

Investment to drive Canadian startup’s progress toward a quantum computing module to reach one million physical qubits.

Xanadu, a Toronto, Canada-based developer of photonic quantum computing technologies, has raised US$100M in Series B financing.

Bessemer Venture Partners led the round with participation from Capricorn, Tiger Global, BDC Capital, In-Q-Tel, along with returning investors Georgian, OMERS, and Tim Draper. The round brings Xanadu's total investment to date to US$145M.

Xanadu was founded in 2016 with the objective of developing photon-based quantum computing to perform rapid and previously impossible computations at room temperature.

“The strong interest from VC firms to fund this Series B financing demonstrates significant market confidence in Xanadu's photonic approach and our world-class team,” commented Christian Weedbrook, founder and CEO.

”We believe this confidence is grounded in the significant advantages offered by photonics: the ability to leverage preexisting foundries and off-the-shelf optical components, and the capability to naturally network photonic chips together to form a larger quantum computer with one million qubits.”

Modular approach

In order to solve important practical problems, a quantum computer needs to have error correction and fault tolerance. This corresponds to building a quantum computer with one million qubits along with other important hardware metrics. To reach this type of scale, a modular approach will be implemented where a number of smaller quantum chips are networked together.

Xanadu stated that this latest round of funding positions the company to achieve its next major milestone: the building of a fault-tolerant quantum computing module. “This fault-tolerant module is the size of a few conventional server racks and will be the key building block to reaching one millions qubits and to solving meaningful problems, leading to the opening up of a new global market,” said Weedbrook.

“Photonics has the advantage that networking these modules together is achieved using light, which is already the medium of choice for our quantum computer.”

Over the past few years, Xanadu has consistently doubled its qubit count and made its quantum computers available over the “Xanadu Cloud”, described as the world's first photonic quantum cloud platform.

The firm has also released two open-source software products: PennyLane, the hardware-agnostic and industry-leading standard for quantum machine learning; and Strawberry Fields, the only full-stack platform for photonic quantum computing.

“Based on their impressive team and progress, Xanadu impressed us as the leading contender to develop the first commercially valuable, photonic quantum computer," said David Cowan, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. "BVP is betting that in this decade quantum computers, like Xanadu's, will make the conventional supercomputer look like an antiquated abacus.”

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