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Qubit Pharmaceuticals announces €16.1M seed round

By Dan O'Shea posted 13 Jun 2022

The quantum sector has been very concerned in recent months about the possibility of start-up funding drying up, but there continues to be a modest trickle of deals, at least at the seed round financing level.

With that in mind, chemistry, molecular simulations and material science continue to be ripe fields for quantum innovation, and Qubit Pharmaceuticals could be the next company worth watching in these areas after raising a €16.1 million ($16.9 million) seed round from XAnge, Omnes, Quantonation and Octave Klaba, founder of French cloud computing firm OVH. 

The company has now raised a total of more than €23 million ($24.1 million) going back to a pre-seed funding round announced two years ago this month. Quantonation, which has invested in a handful of other quantum companies, also was a participant in the earlier pre-seed round.

Qubit Pharmaceutical is putting the funding toward further strengthening of its proprietary Atlas software platform, which is capable of leveraging the computing power of supercomputers and quantum computers to accelerate the development of more effective and safer drug candidates through molecular simulations and modeling. The company also is planning to create a portfolio of 10 drug candidates in the fields of oncology and inflammatory diseases.

The company added in a press release that it is aiming to reduce the time to screen, select, and optimize a promising drug candidate by half, and to divide the investment required by more than 10. It has a team of 20 people specializing in quantum chemistry, computational chemistry, machine learning and medicinal chemistry, and thanks to the use of supercomputers and quantum computers. The company also is planning following this founding round to staff up to 60 people divided between Paris and Boston.

Robert Marino, CEO of Qubit Pharmaceuticals said in a statement, “One year after our pre-seed round with Quantonation, we are proud to have obtained the confidence of renowned investors for our seed round. Their financial support and expertise will enable us to realize our ambition to significantly reduce the time to market for new drugs and cut the cost of pre-clinical development by a factor of ten.”

Modeling the interactions between molecules allows Qubit Pharmaceuticals to create digital twins of physical molecules. The Atlas platform can perform in a few hours calculations that would take several years by conventional means, an acceleration of a factor of 100,000, the company claimed. This means it is no longer necessary to synthesize drug candidates developed in chemistry or using artificial intelligence algorithms to validate their effectiveness.

Qubit Pharmaceuticals has already established long-term partnerships with players developing high-performance computing infrastructures such as Nvidia, GENCI and AWS, and quantum computing, including France’s Pasqal and the University of Sherbrooke (Canada). As a result, Qubit Pharmaceuticals will be able to continuously improve the accuracy of its digital twins and expand the scope of applications to increasingly complex targets.

 In the short term, the company will strengthen its pipeline of drug candidates to 10 in-house research programs in oncology and inflammation while entering into agreements with leading research centers and biopharmaceutical companies to accelerate the development of their portfolios.

Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.

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