French Startup C12 Secures €18M to Advance Quantum Computing

DateJun 22, 2024

French startup C12 has secured €18 million in its second financing round to advance its pioneering work in quantum computing. The company, a spin-off from the Physics Laboratory of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, is at the forefront of developing a universal quantum computer based on carbon nanotubes.

This significant investment round includes contributions from leading investors such as Varsity Capital, EIC Fund, and Verve Ventures, along with existing supporters like 360 Capital, Bpifrance’s Digital Venture fund, and BNP Paribas Développement.

Didier Valet, Founding Partner at Varsity Capital, expressed his enthusiasm for the investment, emphasizing the aim to build a large-scale, fault-tolerant quantum computer and bolster France’s leadership in the quantum technology sector. Similarly, Pierre Desjardins, CEO and co-founder of C12, voiced his pride in the company’s progress and the extraordinary team driving their ambitions to become a quantum computing leader.

C12’s journey began with a $10 million raise in 2021, which propelled their breakthrough in materials for large-scale quantum computers. Their unique architecture, which closely approximates a single spin in a vacuum, has been shown to reduce noise sources that degrade qubit quality. In October 2023, C12 launched the Quantum Fab, a first-of-its-kind production line for quantum processors in Paris. This facility includes multiple production workshops and a cleanroom for semiconductor chips, positioning C12 to produce its first quantum products.

Nader Sabbaghian, Partner at 360 Capital, likened the potential of carbon in quantum computing to silicon’s foundational role in digital computing. He highlighted C12’s pioneering achievements and the commitment to making quantum computing a practical reality. Clémentine Cazenave, Senior Investor at Bpifrance, echoed this sentiment, noting the company’s continuous enhancement of its value proposition and the significance of the Quantum Fab.

Further bolstering its position, C12 has been selected for the Proqcima program, initiated in March 2024 by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces and the French Secretary General for Investment. This program aims to develop two French-designed prototypes of universal quantum computers by 2032, underscoring the strategic importance of C12’s work.

Accelerate Quantum R&D Efforts

With the new financing, C12 aims to accelerate its R&D efforts to achieve a significant milestone: the first high-fidelity quantum operation on two distant spin qubits connected by a communication bus. Matthieu Desjardins, CTO and co-founder of C12, emphasized the importance of demonstrating long-distance entanglement between two qubits, a breakthrough that could enable computations in seconds that currently take years. This advancement would be crucial for the future scalability of quantum computing.

In addition to technological advancements, C12 plans to accelerate industrial co-development partnerships, building on initial agreements with French chemical and optimization companies. Svetoslava Georgieva, Chair of the EIC Fund Board, emphasized the fund’s commitment to supporting high-impact scale-ups like C12, which drive technological breakthroughs and economic growth.

Xavier Mesnier, Principal at Verve Ventures, highlighted C12’s unique approach to solving core challenges in quantum computing by changing the qubit material and leveraging its unique properties to develop a scalable hardware architecture. This innovative strategy sets C12 apart in the quest for a practical quantum computer.

Founded in 2020 by the Desjardins brothers, C12 employs 45 people, including 22 PhDs from 18 different nationalities, all united by the ambition to lead in quantum computing. The company’s use of carbon nanotubes, an ultra-pure material that minimizes errors and enhances qubit quality, positions it at the cutting edge of quantum technology.

Alexis Lê-Quôc, Co-founder and CTO of Datadog, expressed his admiration for C12’s innovative approach and the impressive progress made by the team, reaffirming his support for their groundbreaking work in quantum computing.

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