As quantum chip development moves from the lab into industrial fabrication facilities (‘fabs’), the ability to test quantum chips becomes even more of a bottleneck than it is today. Currently, testing a small quantum chip requires weeks, using a cryogenic lab facility and a team of dedicated quantum engineers. Testing in an industrial setting only makes the requirements of the cryogenic test environment more stringent, while at the same time demanding much shorter test times per chip.
In that scenario, Orange Quantum Systems has raised a €1.5 million pre-seed round co-led by QDNL Participations and Cottonwood Technology Fund. The Dutch startup builds quantum chip test equipment to tackle this challenge, providing an easy, affordable and fast alternative to in-house testing solutions that its industry customers would otherwise have to build themselves. This approach is well-known in the semiconductor industry, where companies focus on building test equipment. Doing this for quantum chips, however, requires quantum expertise, which sets Orange QS apart.
“Testing quantum chips is an expensive, slow, and difficult process, because it relies on a high-tech lab environment, manual workflows, and PhD-level operators. If the quantum computing value chain wants to increase the number of high-quality qubits per quantum chip, it will need industry-level foundry processes combined with fast test equipment,” explained Dr. Ir. Adriaan Rol, Director of Research & Development at Orange QS.
The Dutch startup supports the emerging quantum chip industry’s transition from ‘lab to fab’ by reducing the test cost per qubit significantly. Orange QS was founded as a spinout from TNO (the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) in 2020, on what turned out to be a significant day for the burgeoning European quantum industry.
“We announced Orange QS in April 2020, on the same day as the launch of the Quantum Inspire, the first publicly accessible quantum computer in Europe. The founders all contributed in different ways to Quantum Inspire. During the development of the computer, we realized how big a bottleneck it was to test a new quantum chip,” said Garrelt Alberts, Managing Director at Orange QS.
Although this is the company’s first external funding, it already operates commercially in the market for quantum chip R&D tools and has bootstrapped for its first three years through product sales and subsidized projects. In that time, the company has grown to a full-time team of 17, and established its own cryogenic lab facilities. In addition to the new investment round, Orange QS has secured a grant from the European Innovation Council’s EIC Accelerator this summer.
The new funds will be used to develop Orange QS’ next generation of quantum chip test equipment. They will combine their products built for the R&D market and embed new key innovations. This next generation of equipment will be the first turnkey solution optimized for high-speed qubit testing, targeting the emerging quantum industry market.
“By providing rapid and accurate testing of quantum devices, Orange QS is filling a crucial need for the emerging quantum computing industry. This technology will catalyze many more innovations in the Dutch quantum ecosystem and strengthen the country’s position as a leader in this field. I look forward to propelling this transformative quantum platform forward together,” added Ton van ‘t Noordende, Managing Director of QDNL Participations
“We think Orange QS has chosen a unique position in the quantum supply chain, and we are very excited that this team is able to be the global winner in quantum diagnostics and testing”, said Alain le Loux, General Partner at Cottonwood Technology Fund.