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14 June, 2019 - 09:53 By Tony Quested

Quantum computing startup Riverlane wins £3.25m seed funding

Cambridge University spin-out Riverlane has clinched £3.25m seed funding to develop its exciting quantum computing software technology which is transforming the discovery of new materials and drugs.

Cambridge Innovation Capital and Amadeus Capital Partners led the round in which the university’s commercialisation arm, Cambridge Enterprise, also participated.

Riverlane’s software leverages the capabilities of quantum computers, which operate using the principles of quantum mechanics. In the same way that graphics processing units (GPUs) accelerate machine learning workloads, Riverlane uses quantum computers to accelerate the simulation of quantum systems.

Andrew Williamson, managing partner at CIC, said: “Riverlane is changing the way we think about computation at the most fundamental level. Founder and CEO Steve Brierley and his team are developing state-of-the-art algorithms that can run on a range of quantum computing hardware platforms. 

“These algorithms can be applied to a number of applications such as drug–protein interactions, biomolecule folding and materials science at a molecular level. This is the sort of cutting-edge technology at which Cambridge excels and at CIC we are delighted to be involved with such an exciting company from the outset.”

Brierley said: “This seed funding allows us to accelerate our work at a critical time in the development of quantum computers. Computers are central to the design of many new products but when we try to model systems at the level of individual atoms, the rules that govern their behaviour are fundamentally different. 

“Even huge supercomputers are limited to approximations and as a result, the design of new drugs and materials remains primarily a laboratory rather than a computational exercise. Riverlane’s software aims to unleash the huge potential of quantum computers.”

Riverlane is working with leading academics and companies on critical early use cases for its software, such as developing new battery materials and drug treatments. 

The company will use its seed funding to demonstrate its technology across a range of quantum computing hardware platforms, focused on early adopters in materials design and drug discovery. It will also expand its team of quantum software researchers and computational physicists.

Amelia Armour, Principal, Amadeus Capital Partners, said: “Amadeus has a long history of supporting deep tech businesses in Cambridge and we’ve been impressed by Riverlane’s progress. Steve has brought together an impressive team of experts in maths, computer science, chemistry, physics and materials science who share a passion for driving innovation in quantum computing. We’re pleased to support the company as it seeks to demonstrate the commercial value of its unique software.”

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