28 June 2022

Max Planck Scientists Found planqc to Build Highly Scalable Quantum Computer

Quantum computing startup planqc today announced a financing round of EUR 4.6 million led by UVC Partners and Speedinvest. With this funding, planqc will develop a highly scalable quantum computer operating at room temperature that is based on atoms trapped in optical lattices. planqc was founded by a team of scientists from the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics and Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and is the first startup to emerge from the Munich Quantum Valley, one of the leading quantum technology hubs in Europe.

State-of-the-art digital quantum computers are currently limited in both number of qubits and gate quality. The number of qubits limits the amount of information that can be processed, but imperfect gates introduce errors (or "noise") into the result of a computation. While these so-called NISQ devices (short for noisy intermediate-scale quantum) have recently outperformed classical computers on some abstract problems, they are still far away from demonstrating this so-called "quantum advantage" for industry-relevant problems.

"For me, the most exciting application of near-term quantum computers is the simulation of materials, and the platform based on atoms used in planqc is the best suited for that purpose," says J. Ignacio Cirac, director at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ). "Once our quantum computers demonstrate quantum advantage for an industry-relevant problem, they will have a massive social and economic impact," says Alexander Glätzle, CEO and co-founder of planqc, and previously a researcher at the University of Oxford.

planqc's unique combination of quantum technologies is the fastest way to scale to thousands of qubits, a prerequisite for industry-relevant quantum advantage. planqc's quantum computers store information in individual atoms – nature's best qubits – and arrange them in highly scalable artificial crystals of light. Quantum information is then processed with quantum gates based on precisely controlled laser pulses, leveraging the ground-breaking fundamental research at MPQ and the world-leading German laser and photonics industry.

"planqc's quantum computers are built on the precision of the world's best atomic clocks, the world's best quantum gas microscopes, and high-speed Rydberg gates," says Sebastian Blatt, CTO and co-founder of planqc, and researcher at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich.

planqc's founding team combines decades of international research on neutral-atom quantum technologies at world-leading institutions like Harvard University, University of Oxford, the University of California Berkeley, University of Colorado, University of Innsbruck, CQT Singapore and MPQ.

“Our atoms are more than a million times colder than deep space and over a thousand times colder than superconducting qubits used by IBM or Google, and yet we can run our computers in a room-temperature environment due to the near-perfect isolation of our qubits from the surrounding,” explains Johannes Zeiher, co-founder of planqc, researcher at MPQ. Zeiher adds: “we already routinely trap and control more than 2000 atoms in our optical lattice simulators at MPQ.”

The founding team is completed by Ann-Kristin Achleitner, member of several supervisory boards and financial expert as well as serial entrepreneur Markus Wagner, founder of i5invest. The team is supported by scientific advisors Immanuel Bloch and J. Ignacio Cirac, both directors at MPQ and famous for their seminal work on quantum simulation and quantum information, as well as quantum algorithm expert Dieter Jaksch, Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and the University of Hamburg. “This world-class team combines the technical and commercial expertise to build the world’s most powerful quantum computers,” adds Amanda Birkenholz, Investment Manager at UVC Partners.

The founding team of planqc. © Roman Bause

Pictured: Founding team, left to right: Johannes Zeiher, Alexander Glätzle, Sebastian Blatt, and Lukas Reichsöllner.

Immanuel Bloch, director at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics, says: “I am excited to see planqc come to life, which will enable commercialization of technological developments of our research teams at MPQ and LMU in the context of quantum computing and simulation applications and beyond.”

Dieter Jaksch, professor at the University of Hamburg, says: “It is fantastic to see planqc developing quantum computing hardware that promises to deliver a quantum advantage for real-world application in the near future. This will help to boost interest and the adoption of quantum technologies in a wide range of industries.”

Benjamin Erhart, partner at UVC Partners, says: “Quantum computers have the potential to change entire industries and we are convinced that the team can win the global race of building the first scalable quantum computer that operates at room temperature.”

Rick Hao, partner at Speedinvest, says: “We have tracked this technology for a long time and planqc’s notably different approach to scaling quantum computing appealed to us immediately. Alexander, Sebastian, and Johannes have brought together an impressive team of experts who share a passion for driving innovation in quantum. We’re thrilled to support them in the next phase of their development.”

About planqc

planqc is building quantum computers that store information in individual atoms – nature's best qubits. Quantum information is processed by arranging these qubits in highly scalable arrays and manipulating them with precisely controlled laser pulses. planqc’s unique combination of quantum technologies is the fastest way to scale to thousands of qubits, a prerequisite for industry-relevant quantum advantage. planqc was founded in April 2022 by Alexander Glätzle, Sebastian Blatt, Johannes Zeiher, Lukas Reichsöllner, together with Ann-Kristin Achleitner and Markus Wagner. planqc is based in Garching near Munich, Germany.

Learn more at https://www.planqc.eu/

About UVC Partners

UVC Partners is a Munich- and Berlin-based early-stage venture capital firm that invests in European B2B startups in the areas of enterprise software, industrial technologies, and mobility. Portfolio companies benefit from the extensive investment and exit experience of the management team as well as from the close cooperation with UnternehmerTUM, Europe’s leading innovation, and business creation center. With over 300 employees and more than 100 industry partners, UnternehmerTUM can draw from many years of experience in establishing young companies. This cooperation enables UVC Partners to offer startups unique access to talent, industry customers, and other financial partners.

Learn more at https://www.uvcpartners.com/

About Speedinvest

Speedinvest is a leading early-stage venture capital firm with more than €600M AuM and 40 investors based in Berlin, London, Munich, Paris, and Vienna. Our dedicated sector-focused teams are the first to fund Europe's most innovative technology startups and our in-house operational experts are on hand to offer founders ongoing support with growth, HR, US market expansion, and more. Wefox, Bitpanda, TIER Mobility, GoStudent, Wayflyer, Open, CoachHub, Schüttflix, TourRadar, Adverity, and Twaice are among our portfolio of 250+ companies.

Learn more at https://www.speedinvest.com/

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