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

Aegiq funding seed

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

The 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 also provided funds, bringing Aegiq’s total funding to date to £3.5m. The company is also considering funds to join a second seed round.

Aegiq’s networking solutions are centred around 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 one another for use in quantum key distribution, a type of encryption that is resistant to the superior firepower of quantum computers.

The company is working on embedding these single-photon sources into sensing, communication or information processing systems. This includes communication fibres and satellite uplinks.

While fully-fledged, error-free quantum computers remain some years away, recent advances by the likes of Google and IBM have illustrated the need for encryption tools that can keep data safe from quantum machines.

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 early-stage startups.

Aegiq has previously been awarded funding via innovation projects, with the total value of those funds exceeding £20m.

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

“Building reliable and scalable networking for the quantum era is the linchpin that is needed to truly bring to life the impact of quantum technologies, including quantum computing and also sensing,” said Dr Max Sich, CEO of Aegiq.

The startup was spun out of the University of Sheffield in 2019 by Sich, CTO Dr Scott Dufferwiel, and CFO Andrii Iamshanov. Its leadership team brings more than two decades of quantum knowledge. It is also an alumnus of the Sheffield City Region’s Growth Hub programme, Y Accelerator.

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