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SandboxAQ makes it rain again, this time for Qunnect

By Dan O'Shea posted 06 Oct 2022

SandboxAQ announced its third investment move in the last two months since launching its own strategic investment program, saying this week that it participated in quantum networking start-up Qunnect’s $8M Series A funding round, which was led by Airbus Ventures. 

Previously, SandboxAQ announced the acquisition of post-quantum cryptography firm Cryptosense in mid-September, which came after the company’s announcement in early August of a strategic investment in quantum key distribution company evolutionQ.

While those deals tracked with SandboxAQ’s clear interest in quantum-safe security, the Qunnect investment aligns with another of its business ambitions. Qunnect, based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City, claimed last year to have commercialized the world’s first quantum memory, which serves as the cornerstone to Qunnect’s Quantum Repeater product suite, an integrated solution for long distance distribution of entanglement across existing telecommunications infrastructure. 

A statement from SandboxAQ said the new funding raised by Qunnect will be used to further develop the company’s product suite, scale manufacturing, and launch a multi-node R&D quantum network testbed to demonstrate entanglement distribution protocols. The network will connect to existing fiber optic cable in New York City, and the company claimed it will be the first of its kind in the US.

“Qunnect is developing some of the first commercial quantum memory products in the world, making it a key player in the development of safe quantum communications and the future Quantum Internet,” said Jack Hidary, CEO of SandboxAQ, in the statement. “Through our Strategic Investment Program, SandboxAQ is enabling innovative startups to develop powerful AQ solutions and collaborate on new technologies that will elevate the entire quantum ecosystem.”

“With this Series A round, we are now ready to start our next phase with a concentrated focus on scalability and field-deployment,” said Qunnect CEO Noel Goddard. “We are excited to work with the SandboxAQ team, and we are grateful for the support from its Strategic Investment Program. This round of funds will enable us to accelerate the development of our groundbreaking quantum communications technologies through product development and go-to-market strategies and will help to usher in the next generation of commercial quantum-based solutions.” 

Lead investor Airbus Ventures also commented, with Airbus Ventures Partner Nicole Conner stating, “At Airbus Ventures, we are particularly interested in investing in enabling technologies that make quantum practically usable, out of the lab environment and into the real world, where these portfolio companies can aid in tangibly addressing major security challenges being faced today. We were immediately drawn to Noel and her leadership, quickly paving the way as the leading voice in quantum internet technology, and we are confident that the team’s breakthrough testbed at Brooklyn Navy Yard is just the beginning of a sequence of transformative work…” 

Airbus Ventures also has been an active quantum investor, funding the likes of IonQ and Q-CTRL.

Other investors participating in Qunnect’s Series A round included Impact Science Ventures, Motus Ventures and NY Ventures, the economic development arm for the State of NY, among others. 

Qunnect previously raised $7M in federal funding and $2m in private funding from backers including the US Department of Energy, National Science Foundation and NY Accelerate Fund to accelerate quantum memory without cryogenics or extreme vacuum support. Its customers include the US Airforce Research Lab and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Qunnect was founded in 2017.

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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