French quantum computer startup PASQAL raises €100 million to usher in a new era of neutral atoms quantum computing
Since 1882 after Charles Babbage invented the first computer known as Babbage Difference Engine, today’s computers still use integrated circuits or semiconductors (also known as chips) which are based on bits in the form of binary 1s and 0s.
Integrated circuits are microchip wafers that contain millions of tiny resistors, capacitors, and other components. However, with computational demands from technologies like robotics and generative AI, the current microchips are beginning to reach their limits, especially with their power consumption. As such, a new type of chip is needed to meet these challenges.
That’s where quantum computers come in. Unlike conventional computers that store information using bits represented by 0s or 1s, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, to encode information as 0s, 1s, or both at the same time. Additionally, scientists say quantum computers could one day make some complex mathematical calculations millions of times faster than the fastest supercomputers today.
Four years ago, Google became the first company to build a quantum computer more powerful than the world’s top supercomputers, Although tech giants like Google, IBM, and Honeywell have made great progress in the pursuit of quantum computing. There are a dozen of tech startups in this space including French quantum computer startup PASQAL. However, what differentiates Pasqal from others startups in an increasingly crowded field of quantum computing is that the four-year-old company is betting big on neutral atoms quantum computing.
Founded in 2019, one of PASQAL’s founders, Alain Aspect, won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics for experiments in quantum mechanics that laid the groundwork for today’s quantum computing. The company recently sold two of its quantum computers to France and Germany for high-performance computing centers.
Today, the Paris-based PASQAL announced it has raised 100 million euros ($109 million), making it the biggest private funding round for a quantum computer startup in Europe, according to Georges-Olivier Reymond, CEO and co-founder of PASQAL. The startup will use the fresh fund to deliver major commercial advantages over classical computers by next year.
“As the other companies will probably struggle to find cash and so forth, maybe it’s a good opportunity for us to take the talents that are available,” Reymond told Reuters, adding that PASQAL planned to double its headcount to about 200 this year.