Cambridge University spin-out raises £2.1m for its quantum technology

Using quantum technology to generate random numbers helps to strengthen the basis of encryption, making it dramatically harder to unscramble …

A Cambridge University spin-out has raised £2.1m in funding for its quantum technology that can be used for random number generation and ultra-secure encryption.

Nu Quantum raised the funding from backers including Amadeus Capital, IQ Capital and Seraphim Capital.

Using quantum technology to generate random numbers helps to strengthen the basis of encryption, making it dramatically harder to unscramble encrypted messages.

After eight years of research inside Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory, Nu Quantum was spun out into a commercial business, which is developing its high-performance light-emitting and light-detecting components for industry uses.

Chief executive Dr Carmen Palacios-Berraquero said the company has ­initially focused on random number generation because it’s “the simplest system you could make”.

“The vision is to keep doing quantum information systems,” she added. “By mid-next year we plan to have a technology demonstrator.”

The company is a partner in a consortium led by the National Physical Laboratory, which is working on quantum random number generation, a technology that uses the inherent randomness of natural physical processes to create truly random numbers.

The consortium was given £2.8m in government funding earlier this year, part of the UK’s £270m investment into developing quantum technologies.

Nu Quantum will use the new funding to triple the size of its team and open its own research laboratory in Cambridge at the start of 2021.

The business also hopes to sell its quantum components to space manufacturers looking to build secure satellite networks. “Companies are planning to make constellations that can make secure quantum networks and securely send quantum keys,” Dr Palacios-Berraquero said. “Those companies need quantum components inside their satellites and in their base stations.”

Alex van Someren, a managing partner at Amadeus Capital, said: “Quantum photonics has the potential to transform cyber security through digital cryptography. We’re making another investment in Nu Quantum because we believe in the team and its ability to take its solutions to market.”