Quantum computing startup inspired by Yale expertise announces new funding

A startup founded by scientists Michel Devoret, Luigi Frunzio, and Robert Schoelkopf has raised $18 million to build the first useful quantum computer.
Photo of Luigi Frunzio, Robert Schoelkopf, and Michel Devoret working in a Yale laboratory.

From left: Luigi Frunzio, Robert Schoelkopf, and Michel Devoret. (Photo by Brita Belli)

Quantum Circuits Inc. (QCI), a startup founded by Yale scientists Michel Devoret, Luigi Frunzio, and Robert Schoelkopf, has raised $18 million in venture funding to build and sell the first practical and useful quantum computers.

QCI will focus on building a modular quantum computer that can be reconfigured and reprogrammed, with initial applications to address drug design for biotech, improved processes for industrial chemicals, financial technology, machine learning, and energy. Quantum computing allows for computation speeds for some of these fields that are orders of magnitude faster than today’s supercomputers.

Quantum computing is a new paradigm, with new rules that allow us to process information in a completely new way,” said Schoelkopf, Sterling Professor of Applied Physics and Physics, who will take a leave of absence to assume the role of QCI CEO in January 2018. “We are at a tipping point in quantum technology where we understand how to build machines to tackle problems that are otherwise uncomputable.”

Yale researchers have pioneered the field of quantum computing with superconducting circuits, introducing the transmon qubit and techniques for distributing quantum information on wires, as well as developing the first quantum algorithms and quantum error correction in integrated circuits. QCI is developing quantum computers based on a proprietary approach for error-correcting quantum bits that is hardware-efficient and requires significantly less redundancy.

No team has done more to pioneer the superconducting approach to qubits than the QCI co-founders and their collaborators at Yale, who are responsible for a majority of the breakthroughs in solid-state quantum computing in the past decade,” said Isaac Chuang, professor of physics at MIT and a member of QCI’s advisory board. “Now QCI is putting together the multidisciplinary team that can deliver a full-stack solution for useful quantum computing.”

The new funding, led by venture capital firms Canaan and Sequoia Capital, will allow QCI to combine its deep experience in quantum physics with the electrical, mechanical, and systems engineers needed for the scaling of quantum computers, as well as the software designers and programmers needed to develop algorithms and applications.

Brendan Dickinson of Canaan and Bill Coughran of Sequoia are joining QCI’s board. Tribeca Venture Partners, Osage University Partners, and Fitzgate Ventures also participated in the financing.

Quantum Circuits is a case study on the advantages of Yale’s long-term approach to supporting the work of our research faculty,” said Jon Soderstrom, managing director of Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research. “We’ve worked closely with QCI’s scientific founders to position their research for commercial development outside the university, and are thrilled that this company joined the growing startup environment right here in New Haven.”

Devoret, the F.W. Beinecke Professor of Applied Physics and Physics; Frunzio, senior research scientist in the Department of Applied Physics; and Schoelkopf founded QCI in 2015. Brian Pusch is QCI’s president.

The group has produced many scientific firsts, including the development of a “quantum bus” for entangling qubits with wires, and the first implementation of quantum algorithms and error-correction with a solid-state device.

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Jim Shelton: james.shelton@yale.edu, 203-361-8332