Oxford Ionics raises £30m as it looks to develop quantum processor technology

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Oxford Ionics, a UK start-up working on scaling quantum computing, has announced that it has raised £30 million in Series A funding from quantum and tech investors.

The round was led by Oxford Science Enterprises and Braavos Investment Advisers, while Lansdowne Partners, Prosus Ventures, 2xN, Torch Partners and Hermann Hauser (founder of chip giant ARM) also participated.

Originally founded in 2019 by Dr Chris Ballance and Dr Tom Harty, Oxford Ionics is working on a unique approach to designing and scaling one of the most promising quantum computing technologies – trapped-ions – which have been used in the highest-performing quantum systems to date.

According to Ionics, tests involving trapped-ion technology have resulted in numerous world records including the highest performance quantum operations, longest quantum coherence time, and highest performance quantum network. This technology has also achieved the highest performance ever demonstrated while using chips manufactured on a semiconductor production line.

Commenting Dr Chris Ballance, co-founder of Oxford Ionics said, “If we’re to identify and unlock the true power and potential of quantum computing we need to crack the critical issues that are holding it back – scalability, integration and performance.

“Our unique trapped-ion approach has been developed to address all three. At Oxford Ionics, we’re focused on building technologies that will help quantum computing finish the race, not just take small, incremental steps. Our latest round of funding, and the knowledge, insight and expertise of our new investors bring us even closer to this goal.”

Until now, according to the company, trapped–ion systems have largely relied on lasers to control qubits. This approach performs well for small processors but becomes untenable and error prone as the size of the processor scales, and the number of qubits increases.

Instead of lasers, Oxford Ionics’ trapped-ion processors use a proprietary, patented Electronic Qubit Control (EQC) system to control the qubits – this allows them to combine the quantum performance of individual atoms with the scalability and reliability of electronics integrated into silicon chips.

Not only does this approach deliver the highest level of performance possible, it does so in a way that makes the Oxford Ionics processors integrable and scalable as standard – a first for any quantum computing technology.

The start-up has proven the potential of this approach in a real-world environment, via its partnership with semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies on its standard production line.

Before co-founding the quantum-inspired venture capital firm 2xN, investor Niels Nielsen was an early backer, and former chairman of Cambridge Quantum. Cambridge Quantum recently merged with Honeywell Quantum Solutions to form Quantinuum, one of the world’s largest integrated quantum computing companies. Fellow Oxford Ionics’ investor, Hermann Hauser founded chip giant ARM and was an early backer of quantum technologies.

This latest funding round will be used to further Oxford Ionics’ expansion with the hiring of people in roles across the company’s functions. 

Niels Nielsen, co-founder of 2xN said, “Quantum computing opens up the next frontier in computing power for many industries yet getting there requires the development of qubit technologies that can be built at a massive scale. All without sacrificing power, and while keeping error levels to a minimum. Oxford Ionics’ EQC technology offers a path to bringing the power and potential of trapped ion qubits and integrating it into classical semiconductor processes.”

Oxford Ionics’ latest funding round takes the total raised by the start-up to £37 million.