Molten Ventures leads £15m fundraise into UK quantum firm

24 Apr 2023

Riverlane's Deltaflow.Control device, which aims to enable quantum error correction. Image: Riverlane

The Cambridge-based start-up is designing software and hardware to reduce errors in quantum computers.

Molten Ventures, one of Europe’s most well-known venture capital firms focusing on high-growth tech start-ups, has led a funding round for UK quantum engineering company Riverlane.

The £15m Series B round included participation from global technology company Altair, along with returning investors Cambridge Innovation Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners and the UK’s National Security Strategic Investment Fund.

As part of the funding deal, Altair CEO and founder James Scapa, will join the Riverlane board as an adviser.

Riverline is working on an error-correction system for quantum computers, which is one of the key challenges associated with making these advanced machines a reality.

Currently, quantum computer prototypes have errors in their quantum bits – or qubits – due to how sensitive these components are.

For example, imperfect control signals, interference from the environment and unwanted interactions between qubits can lead to “noise” that causes errors in quantum computer calculations.

The risk of errors grows as more qubits are added to a quantum computer, which complicates attempts to create more powerful machines.

To address this issue Riverlane is designing software and hardware to control qubits and decode calculations. The company was founded in 2016 and has grown to 100 staff, with offices in Cambridge, UK and in Boston and San Francisco, US.

By 2025, Riverlane aims to develop its own chip-based decoder that can process up to 100TB of data per second. The company expects the new investment to help it reach a break-even cash flow.

Riverlane CEO and founder Steve Brierley believes that solving the quantum error correction challenge will lead to quantum computers that “accurately simulate the true complexity of nature”.

“Armed with useful quantum computers, humans will enter the quantum age, where we go from slow trial and error to solve complex problems to an era of rapid design using quantum computers,” Brierley said.

“We haven’t even begun to imagine the many ways such technology will positively transform our world.”

Molten Ventures, which was previously known as Draper Esprit, has backed European unicorns in the past such as Revolut and Aircall.

The VC firm has been involved in various funding rounds over the past six months such as the $54m funding round of biotech firm Evonetix.

Last December, Irish cybersecurity start-up Vaultree closed a $12.8m Series A funding round led by Molten Ventures. The VC company also co-led a €16m funding round for low-code blockchain platform SettleMint last October.

Molten Ventures chief portfolio officer Stuart Chapman said Riverlane’s impressive quantum computing progress has led to its significant rise in valuation “even in a tough technology market”.

“Steve and the Riverlane team are ready to bring quantum computing to the commercial world,” Chapman said. “We’re thrilled to renew our support and have never felt more confident in Riverlane’s ability to drive quantum innovation and generate enduring value.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic