British deep tech ORCA Computing rakes in $15 million to roll out light-based quantum computer

The deep tech platform is providing the UK MoD with its first quantum computer to develop future processing capabilities, as part of a year-long programme
British deep tech ORCA Computing rakes in $15 million to roll out light-based quantum computer

Holding the potential to transform trillion-dollar industries, from drug discovery to autonomous vehicles, quantum computing is the way forward. Yet, scaling a system to the qubits needed to execute significant quantum algorithms is an immense undertaking.

At a time of intense development in quantum technology, British quantum computer startup ORCA Computing has raised $15 million to speed up the rollout of its near-term photonic quantum computing systems to develop future data processing capabilities such as machine learning.

The Series A investment was led by a syndicate of top European deep technology investors, including Octopus Ventures, Oxford Science Enterprises, Quantonation, and Verve Ventures.

The company has also partnered with UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to develop future data processing capabilities. In a milestone development, MoD will use ORCA’s model to operate at room temperature and be based on premises to make its way forward in the race of quantum technology.

The two-year-old startup is developing scalable quantum computers that integrate with real-world technologies. This is a challenge for current prototypes as they must keep the qubits on which they run at extremely cold temperatures or they become unstable. Orca says it has found an alternate way to operate quantum computing. According to the company, its software allows small-scale photonic processors to use single units of light which can be applied to complex machine learning. 

“Light has a huge part to play in the future of quantum computing as an effective, scalable resource. Our mission is to put photonic systems in the hands of users today so that we deliver value in the short as well as long term,” said Richard Murray, co-founder and CEO of ORCA Computing. 

The company was also recently selected to lead a key Innovate UK project to develop ‘the quantum data centre of the future’ valued at £11.6 million in total. ORCA leads a 15-strong consortium that includes BP, Airbus, Riverlane, KETS, BT, and five leading UK universities. 

“This investment is a fantastic opportunity to address the engineering challenges involved in scaling the platform, grow our team and get a functioning quantum computer into the hands of those who can use it to improve their business,” said Ian Walmsley, co-founder and chair of ORCA Computing. 

Zoë Reich, fund manager at Octopus Ventures added: “ORCA has an expert team, a pioneering component focused approach, and have already achieved significant milestones on the road to a quantum memory-powered photonic quantum computing system."

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