What: Quantonation is Europe's first venture capital fund with a major focus on quantum computing, though its investment areas are broad enough to include what the firm describes as "Deep Physics."
The areas of quantum investing include Quantum Computing (Hardware and Software), Quantum Networks, and Quantum Sensing.
The main co-founders first began investing together in 2018 on a company-by-company basis but eventually closed a €91 million fund in 2022 (the target was €50 million). Quantonation co-founder and CEO Christophe Jurczak said the firm has invested about €75 million of that money so far.
"Investing in quantum computing was not obvious in 2018," Jurczak said. "At the time, I was living in Palo Alto, but I came back to France and was struck by the changes and the activity. We did a small vehicle to invest because people were not convinced by our grand view that the future is quantum."
The team wrote a few small checks for €200,000 and gradually began to attract investors who were willing to become LPs in a fund. While Quantonation has a global outlook, about half of its investments are in France where it has become one of the most influential players in this emerging sector.
The Team: Quantonation's founding team is a combination of physicists and investors:
- Christophe Jurczak: Has a PhD in quantum physics from École Polytechnique.
- Charles Beigbeder: A well-known figure in the French business world, had started an online financial services company in 2001, a utility company that he sold, and later Audacia, a private equity firm. He was initially the main financial partner when Quantonation was formed.
- Olivier Tonneau: A former consultant who was later on the Audacia board and now sits on the board of the European Quantum Industry Consortium (QuIC)
- William Zeng: Joined Quantonation as a US-based partner this past summer, he was previously Head of Quantum Research for Goldman Sachs and head of product for US-based quantum startup Rigetti Computing.
"We're very focused on the question of how to turn the science into a product," Jurczak said. "We can put physicists and the financiers in the same room and that’s a good combination."
Number of Investments: 22
Size of Investments: The firm writes checks ranging from $250,000 to $1 million. It invests from Pre-Seed to Series A rounds.
Notable investments: Quantonation has invested in 6 quantum-related startups in France, including:
- PASQAL: Building quantum computers. (See Sifted profile here)
- Quandela: Photonic quantum computing. (See Sifted coverage).
- Quobly: Building a quantum computer. (See Seed of The Week feature.)
- VeriQloud: Quantum cryptography and security.
- WeLinQ: Developing cloud-based quantum computing solutions.
- Qubit Pharmaceuticals: Leveraging quantum computing to accelerate drug discovery.
And three "Deep Physics" startups:
- InSpeck: Sensors for real-time biological and chemical process monitoring.
- LightOn: GenAI for Enterprise.
- Resolve Stroke: Medical vascular imaging leap.
What they bring to the table: Quantonation will start working with entrepreneurs even when their projects are still primarily in the lab. Jurczak said the firm co-creates the company by helping founders grasp the business cases, explore funding opportunities, and navigate the tech transfer systems.
In addition, the firm is developing synergies between its portfolio companies to help them advance both research and business potential. Quantonation has partnered with several research university labs, including the Quantum Catalyzer, an incubator based out of the University of Maryland. Jurczak is an associate at the Creative Destruction Lab, a deeptech startup program run by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
Quantonation also founded non-profit associations such Le Lab Quantique and QuantX to promote quantum technologies and build ecosystems around the emerging technology. Le Lab Quantique just announced it was opening the Maison Quantique at the Station F startup campus in Paris to create a place where startups, corporates, and policymakers would interact.