Quantum computing startup Oxford Ionics has appointed the former CTO of Arm and secured £2 million funding from UK’s National Security Strategic Investment Fund.

The startup, which is looking to solve the critical scalability issues facing the future of quantum computing, welcomes Dipesh Patel as a non-executive director. 

Patel was the former CTO and EVP of Arm before becoming an operating partner at Cambridge Innovation Capital.

Oxford Ionics will use the funds to continue developing its trapped ion technology to further solve critical challenges faced by the current and future generations of quantum computers. 

Dr Chris Ballance, co-founder & CEO of Oxford Ionics, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Dipesh to the Oxford Ionics board, and to receive backing from the UK’s NSSIF. 

“Quantum computing is a critical technology that will play a role in the security of the UK and we’re excited to continue to develop the infrastructure that will make quantum computing a reality.” 

Founded in 2019 by Dr Ballance and Dr Tom Harty, Oxford Ionics takes a unique approach to designing and scaling one of the most promising quantum computing technologies – trapped ions. As multiple technologies vie for position in our race for a quantum future, trapped ions have long proved superior, with the highest-performing quantum computers to date being powered by trapped ions. 

Oxford Ionics’ trapped ion processors use a proprietary, patented Electronic Qubit Control (EQC) system to control the qubits. This allows the company to combine the unrivalled quantum performance of individual atoms with the scalability and reliability of electronics integrated into silicon chips, delivering the highest level of performance possible. 

The company has been taking major strides in solving key scalability and integration challenges in the industry, showcased in two recent scientific publications. In the first paper, the team showed how Oxford Ionics’ technology can solve one of the big challenges in building powerful quantum computers: how to wire the chips up. 

Today, small-scale quantum computers can – just about – get away with connecting qubits to one or more individual control lines. As soon as you look to scale the technology and ramp up the qubit count, however, the number of lines, and thus the number of wires and electrical interconnects to the chip needed to maintain pace quickly becomes unwieldy, to the point of impossibility. 

Oxford Ionics’ patented WISE architecture aims to solve this problem, ensuring that the number of wires needed to control chips doesn’t become impractical as the chips become more powerful. In the second paper, they demonstrate one of the underpinning techniques of this architecture in an experimental prototype.

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Following a £30m Series A round earlier this year – which featured Arm founder Hermann Hauser – the Oxford Ionics team is set to grow to 61 by the end of 2023, in particular through expanding its quantum science, chip design and software engineering teams. 

To support this growth, the company has recently broken ground on a new 30,000-square-foot office and lab space.

Patel said: “It’s an honour to be appointed a non-executive director at Oxford Ionics. From my many years at Arm,  I understand the challenges and opportunities for scaling highly technical, groundbreaking companies, taking them from the innovation stage to widespread adoption. 

“I’m looking forward to supporting Chris and Tom as they develop Oxford Ionics and to be a part of this exhilarating mission.”

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