Putting their chips on the table

Quantum computer
How ventureLAB is helping a Chilean quantum tech startup break into the Canadian market.

Introducing New Market Entry, presented by ventureLAB. This three-part series will spotlight founders bringing their international deeptech startups to the Canadian market.

Finding a first customer is often the most challenging hurdle for a deeptech startup.

For qScire, a quantum software company based in Santiago, Chile, accessing their target customers Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm, some of the biggest names in computing, seemed almost impossible. That’s why Claudio Fernando Arenas, CEO of qScire, turned his gaze north.

“Chile is not very well known for building or designing chips, so we had to move to a place that has a connection with this industry,” said Arenas.

“This industry is so protective that if you reach the door unreferenced, the big players simply ignore you.”

His company does not deal in small challenges. In 2019, qScire was founded by a group of friends looking to bring Chile’s academic research on material science to the semiconductor industry.

The startup uses quantum physics to develop software that accurately and efficiently analyzes and reduces parasitics, the electrical resistance and unwanted electrical effects in chips.

Canada is no stranger to the fields of quantum computing and advanced electronics. The country is home to burgeoning startups like D-Wave, Xanadu, and Photonic, and serves as a hub for major chip developers like AMD and Intel. However, startups like qScire must capture the attention of large buyers.

“Typically, actors in this industry don’t switch from one technology to another unless someone else has proven it out, which means reaching them by email or LinkedIn is almost impossible,” he said. “This industry is so protective that if you reach the door unreferenced, the big players simply ignore you.”

The problem, according to Arenas, often comes down to the sheer scale of these buyers. 

“They’re so large that the typical office that takes care of the problem that we solve is likely not the first one that we contact,” he added. “It’s definitely a long-term effort in order to reach the people that are interested inside of these huge industry giants.”

Claudio Fernando Arenas
Claudio Fernando Arenas, CEO of qScire (Photo by provided by qScire)

Being geographically closer to these companies prompted qSquire’s interest in Canada, but they still needed to get a foot in the door. This is what led them to ventureLAB’s Soft Landing program.

The three-month program is part of the hardtech accelerator’s Canada Catalyst programming, and aims to be a springboard for international, growth-stage companies looking to establish a foothold in the Canadian market.

The program provides companies with access to vital resources, including ventureLAB’s Innovation Space and the $11-million Hardware Lab. Arenas described ventureLAB’s facilities as a treasure. “They have labs that anyone would only dream to have in Chile,” he added.

More importantly, the Soft Landing program offers a robust support network that facilitates key connections with potential customers. For a company like qScire, that was invaluable.

“The biggest benefit of the program for us is the contact networks,” he said. “These are trusted people with the networks and experience to make those connections.”

Arenas said he believes ventureLAB will help increase his company’s visibility to target customers and make connections with players like AMD, and expects to establish a physical foothold in the country within the next year.

“It’s evident to us that Canada is betting on new technologies in order to secure its status in this sector,” he added. “For us, that’s key.”

Feature image courtesy of TheDigitalArtist via Pixabay.

ventureLAB Logo - full colour 2 - Anveshika Sharma

Breaking into North American markets calls for deep market knowledge, skilled talent and an experienced support network who can assist you in your journey to Canada.

ventureLAB’s Canada Catalyst serves as a launching pad for international companies to enter the Canadian market and beyond, catering specifically to the unique needs of companies in the hardware and enterprise technology sectors, with a strong emphasis on DeepTech.

Visit https://www.venturelab.ca/canada-catalyst to learn more.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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