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‘Quantum tech’ venture fund raises $30 million

13 Dec 2012

New Boston-based venture group with photonics pedigree and strong Russian influence looks to fund breakthrough companies.

A new venture capital company with a specific focus on “quantum” technologies including photonics claims to have raised $30 million in investment funds.

The Boston-based group, called Quantum Wave Fund (Qwave), says it has the potential to raise as much as $100 million, and intends to fund start-up companies working on new kinds of materials and technologies.

The company has a strong Russian influence, having been set up by managing partner Serguei Kouzmine, venture partner Serguei Beloussov and scientific advisory board member Vladimir Shalaev, and also has an address in Moscow.

They believe that innovations based on quantum technology will come to dominate the landscape of key industries such as IT and security – ultimately with the development of quantum communications and computing.

Among the target areas for Qwave are secure data transmission via quantum encryption, applications in medical imaging, high-precision clocks and future generations of transistors.

Helping to build scale
In a statement announcing the $30 million capital raise, Qwave said that it intended to make investments of between $2 million and $10 million in early-stage companies.

Beloussov is also a senior partner at Runa Capital, whose portfolio companies are mostly in the field of software and communications. The PhD computer scientist-turned-entrepreneur says that while many investors have been focusing on internet enterprises in recent years, Qwave sees an opportunity in more fundamental technologies.

“[Since] the 1970s, the venture capital industry stopped traditional investing into sophisticated and capital intensive projects,” he says. “We realized that there are many teams that develop and sell quantum devices. But their common problem was the lack of scale - these devices were built by scientists who do not know how to scale up their developments into multi-million technology businesses.”

“The mission of Qwave is to finance such teams and to help them improve processes of engineering, production, marketing and sales to supply new devices to the global market.”

Technology revolution
Scientific director of nanophotonics at Purdue University, Shalaev is also on the advisory board of the Russian Quantum Center, and is a leading expert in the emerging fields of metamaterials and plasmonics.

In a plenary talk at the SPIE Optics + Photonics conference held in San Diego in August 2012, Shalaev highlighted the potential application of nanophotonics in future modulator, nanoantenna and nanolaser components.

“It’s indeed fantastically good that Qwave is focused on supporting and commercializing quantum technology, which will no doubt be a basis for the next technology revolution comparable to what happened after personal computers and transistors became an everyday reality,” he said.

Joining Kouzmine as members of the Qwave investment team are principal Dmitri Kisliakov and venture partner Oleg Svintsitski. Joining the advisory board with Shalaev are John Doyle and Mikhail Lukin from the Quantum Optics Center at Harvard, Igor Ryabtsev from Russia’s Institute of Semiconductor Physics, Alexey Ustinov from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Eugene Demler, another Harvard professor.

Vladimir Shalaev's plenary talk at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2012:

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