Xanadu raises $32 million Series A for quantum cloud computing platform


Toronto-based Xanadu has raised a $32 million Series A round, led by OMERS Ventures, with participation from Georgian Partners, Radical Ventures, Real Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, and Tim Draper.

“Our platform can be used throughout the larger quantum technology sector.”
– Christian Weedbrook

This latest round brings Xanadu’s total investment to $41 million to date. The company said the new raise will help it advance toward the upcoming release of its photonic-based quantum cloud computing platform, which it said will include next-generation consumer applications that are not available on other platforms. The new cloud computing platform will combine Xanadu’s two flagship software products, PennyLane and Strawberry Fields.

“Confidence in Xanadu’s photonic approach to building a quantum computer is reflected in the strong interest from the highly reputable VC firms we have in this Series A financing,” said CEO Christian Weedbrook. “Xanadu’s vision of the quantum cloud is truly unique.”

“In addition to solving a different set of important problems across industries using photonics, we have the potential of having an all-optical quantum data centre. As photonics is a natural underlying substrate for many quantum technologies, [such as] quantum computing, quantum sensors, and quantum security, our platform can be used throughout the larger quantum technology sector,” he stated.

Weedbrook told BetaKit Xanadu is working hard to have a minimum viable product up and running for the CDL quantum stream next month as well as a more advanced version up at the end of the year. The official platform is expected to launch by the end of 2019. He said building a cloud platform like this involves a number of talented people from a variety of teams.

“Photonics is very unique in that it is the one substrate that threads through most, if not all, quantum technologies,” Weedbrook said. “For example, quantum computing, quantum security, and sensing can all be achieved and implemented using photonics. Going forward, our Xanadu Cloud, has the ability to produce multiple applications and products not possible on other quantum cloud platforms.”

Xanadu was founded in 2016, with a mission of using photons, or particles of light, to perform exceptionally fast and complex computations at room temperature. In May 2018, the company raised a $9 million Seed round from Golden Ventures and Real Ventures in order to build out this technology. In July, it partnered with the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) to allow CDL’s ventures to access quantum machine learning programs.

“Quantum computing has the potential to solve problems that we’ve previously only dreamed of solving,” said Seth Lloyd, Xanadu’s chief scientific advisor. “Xanadu’s quantum optical approach stands out among other quantum computing technologies. Christian and the team have made great progress to realize this approach, and this funding makes me even more excited about the future.”

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PennyLane is Xanadu’s open-source Python software framework for quantum machine learning. Launched in November, it allows users to run quantum machine learning algorithms on any available quantum computing hardware with popular machine learning tools like PyTorch and TensorFlow. The software can integrate with currently-available APIs and quantum hardware, and using a plugin system, PennyLane is also able to interact with quantum computers from different companies in a hardware-agnostic way.

Xanadu’s other flagship software project, Strawberry Fields, is a full-stack platform for photonic quantum computing. Strawberry Fields provides the main access point for Xanadu’s unique photonic quantum computers, as well as a suite of special-purpose quantum simulators. With these offerings, developers, customers, and scientific researchers can access these tools to create new algorithms and products for real-world applications.
“We are thrilled to continue our support of Christian and the Xanadu team,” said Sid Paquette, managing partner at OMERS Ventures. “Once they deploy the world’s most powerful cloud-computing platform, we anticipate creative approaches from developers in harnessing Xanadu’s next-generation processing capability and its potential to accelerate finance, quantum chemistry, material science, and artificial intelligence.”

Image courtesy Xanadu via Facebook

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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