Australian startup QuintessenceLabs grabs $25M to scale quantum-safe cybersecurity solutions

As computing power increases exponentially, the ability to secure our data against brute force and other types of attacks gets more complicated, with the scale and sophistication of cyberattacks continuing to challenge companies’ ability to implement effective data access control and encryption.

To increase data security, Canberra, Australia-based quantum cybersecurity solution provider QuintessenceLabs safeguards sensitive data through its quantum random number generators and advanced data access control software. The startup has now raised $25 million in a Series B round to enhance its security in quantum solutions.

The latest funding was led by Main Sequence and TELUS Ventures, with participation from Mizuho Financial Group-backed InterValley Ventures and Capital Property Group. 

QuintessenceLabs will use the Series B funding to expand its customer base, including private and public organizations in financial services, cloud providers, government agencies and defense sectors globally, CEO and founder of QuintessenceLabs Vikram Sharma told TechCrunch. 

QuintessenceLabs uses quantum physics to build data security tools and has developed qStream, a quantum random number generator (QRNG) that provides encryption keys with full entropy, which means they are truly random, Sharma explained. The market for this type of technology was small when QuintessenceLabs started in 2008, and it took time to mature and bring it to a commercial level, he said. 

“We have spent more than a decade getting the technology right and preparing for commercial adoption,” Sharma said. 

The company sells its product to global corporations, Sharma said. In the last year, one of its significant achievements was making the approved products list for a $2 billion program run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, focused on strengthening data protection across participating agencies, Sharma told TechCrunch.

The Australia-headquartered company opened an office in the U.S. in 2013 with an initial team of three people to make a more significant commitment to the U.S.

As the U.S. is by far the largest cybersecurity market, QuintessenceLabs will continue to grow its team in the U.S. over the next two to three years, Sharma said. 

The U.K. is the second-largest cybersecurity market and somewhat similar to Australia in terms of market dynamics, legal systems and business culture, according to Sharma. In the first half of next year, QuintessenceLabs plans to set up an office in the U.K. that is also an ideal location for its EMEA headquarters, Sharma said, adding that it is in discussions with several U.K. institutions for strategic partnerships. In parallel, QuintessenceLabs is developing partnerships in Japan and India, Sharma noted. 

QuintessenceLabs deferred its growth plans to 12-15 months due to the uncertainty caused by a global pandemic, Sharma said. The company will implement a planned geographic and sectoral expansion strategy as the world starts to reopen around 2022, he mentioned. 

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO recently released a report on Australia’s quantum industry in which it forecasts an $86 billion global market size in the quantum industry by 2040. The quantum communications and cybersecurity market is expected to account for about $16 billion globally. Australia’s quantum technology is projected to generate more than $4 billion in revenues and 16,000 new jobs by 2040, as per the report. 

The company has 50 employees as of September 2021. 

“Safeguarding data — our most valuable resource — has never been more critical, and we look forward to this exciting new growth stage,” said Sharma. 

“As computing power increases exponentially, the tools needed to secure critical data and assets must stay several steps ahead,” said Bill Bartee, partner of Main Sequence. “QuintessenceLabs is a global leader in developing quantum-based cybersecurity tools that help protect sovereign and commercially sensitive business and provide customers with a critical layer of protection.”