Sheffield spin-out Aegiq raises £1.8m for quantum network tech

Aegiq, a University of Sheffield spin-out developing secure networking technology in the age of quantum computing, has raised £1.8m in seed funding for its quantum photonics platform.

Funding, shared exclusively with UKTN, was led by High-Tech Gründerfonds, a public-private venture capital firm based in Bonn, Germany.

Deepbridge Capital and angel investors have also provided funding, bringing Aeqiq’s total funding to date to £3.5m. The company is also considering funds to participate in a second funding round.

Aegiq’s networking solutions are centered on quantum photonics, a branch of science that uses quantum mechanics to encode, transmit and process information using particles of light.

Its semiconductor components emit photons that are indistinguishable from each other for use in quantum key distribution, a type of encryption that withstands the superior firepower of quantum computers.

The company is working on integrating these unique photon sources into detection, communication or information processing systems. This includes communication fibers and satellite uplinks.

Although full-fledged, error-free quantum computers will still be around for a few years to come, recent advances from Google and IBM have illustrated the need for encryption tools that can protect quantum machine data.

Aegiq funding follows Innovate UK boost

The latest funding follows a £1.4m investment in 2020 from Innovate UK, a government agency that provides funding and support to start-ups.

Aegiq has already received funding through innovation projects, with the total value of these funds exceeding £20 million.

The Sheffield-based startup, which wants to become the “backbone of the photon-based quantum technology market,” said it would use the funds to “open up new opportunities” for its customers.

“Building a reliable and scalable network for the quantum age is the keystone needed to bring the impact of quantum technologies, including quantum computing and sensing, to life,” said Dr Max Sich, CEO of Aegiq.

The startup was created out of the University of Sheffield in 2019 by Sich, CTO Dr Scott Dufferwiel and CFO Andrii Iamshanov. Its management team brings over two decades of quantum knowledge. He is also an alumnus of the Sheffield City region’s Growth Hub programme, Y Accelerator.

“The single photon source developed by Aegiq represents a technology platform with unparalleled specifications that enables various applications. As a specialist in photonics, I am more than happy to invest here and support the highly skilled team on their journey,” said Dr. Gernot Berger, Investment Director at High-Tech Gründerfonds.