Quantum technology: Pixel Photonics receives €1.45 million seed funding
Münster, March 29, 2022 — Pixel Photonics, a spin-off from the Department of Physics at WWU Münster founded in 2020, has received €1.45 million in a seed financing round from High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), the French VC fund Quantonation, which specializes in quantum technology, and Dr. Hendrik Sabert, a proven expert in the photonics industry.
Pixel Photonics develops highly scalable single photon detectors with integrated photonics, enabling scaling of solutions in quantum computing, QKD and imaging, among others. The underlying waveguide-integrated SNSPD approach can be used for photonic quantum computing, quantum key distribution, microscopy, or other sensing applications that require highly effective detection of light down to the single photon level. During the start-up phase Pixel Photonics was supported by the REACH EUREGIO Start-up Center in Münster as well as EXIST.
Quantonation and HTGF co-led the seed funding round with serial founder, former venture capital manager and photonics industry expert Dr. Hendrik Sabert. With this funding, Pixel Photonics will further expand its international team in Germany, expand its premises at the Center for Nanotechnology (CeNTech) in Münster, and accelerate the commercialization of its products. Pixel Photonics benefits from the excellent international network within Quantonation’s quantum technology community as well as from HTGF’s large industrial technology portfolio.
“Pixel Photonics’ unique technological approach to single photon detection combines scalability with high detection efficiency at very high speed. This enables new applications as well as scaling up the number of photons used in quantum computing or data rates in quantum cryptography without increasing technical complexity. The team of physicists and entrepreneurs that emerged from Prof. Pernice’s and Prof. Schuck’s groups convinced us with their vision and expertise,” said Christophe Jurczak, partner at Quantonation.
In addition to this important investor funding, Pixel Photonics and the Department of Physics at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität (WWU) Münster have been awarded €2.6 million in research funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to use quantum physics to improve data security. The aim of the so-called QSAMIS project, which is funded under the BMBF program “Enabling Start-up — Start-ups in Quantum Technologies and Photonics”, is to develop the first gigabit QKD (Quantum Key Distribution) system with a significantly increased transmission rate to enable quantum-safe communication for broadband networks.
The idea came from Prof. Wolfram Pernice and Prof. Carsten Schuck
The idea for Pixel Photonics’ detector design originated years ago from the research of Prof. Wolfram Pernice and Prof. Carsten Schuck. Scientists repeatedly expressed the need for single photon detectors with numerous channels in combination with additional functionalities from integrated optics at conferences. This demand led to the first sale and delivery of a four-channel detector for research purposes earlier this year, and it is planned to offer detector systems with 32 or more channels in the near future.
About Pixel Photonics
Pixel Photonics was founded in 2020 as a spin-off from the research groups of Prof. Wolfram Pernice and Prof. Carsten Schuck at WWU Münster by Nicolai Walter, Dr. Wladick Hartmann, Fabian Beutel, Martin Wolff and Christoph Seidenstücker with the goal of commercializing highly scalable single photon detectors based on the waveguide integrated SNSPD approach. Applications for Pixel Photonics’ technology range from optical quantum computing, quantum key distribution (QKD), microscopy to metrology and sensing. The company consists of an international team with 8 full-time employees and has received EXIST funding, venture capital funding from Quantonation and HTGF, and research funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Quantonation is the first venture capital fund to specialize in quantum technologies and innovative physics. Areas such as materials design, high-performance computing, cybersecurity, and ultra-precise detection are now driven by innovations based on these breakthrough technologies. Quantonation aims to support their transition to marketable products for industry. Quantonation is headquartered in Paris, France, and invests worldwide.
The North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy has been funding the establishment and work of a start-up center under the auspices of the EMU with a total of around 20 million euros since 2019. This resulted in the REACH EUREGIO Start-up Center with the participation of the cooperation partners Münster University of Applied Sciences, Digital Hub münsterLAND and the University of Twente. The Start-up Center provides the infrastructure and resources necessary to help those interested in starting a business in higher education establish their start-ups. As a university start-up center, REACH is committed to the transfer of scientific knowledge into start-up practice.
Learn more: https://www.reach-euregio.de
About High-Tech Gründerfonds
The seed investor High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) finances technology start-ups with growth potential. With a volume of around EUR 900 million spread across three funds and an international partner network, HTGF has supported more than 650 start-ups since 2005. His team of experienced investment managers and start-up experts supports the young companies with know-how, entrepreneurial spirit and passion. The focus is on high-tech start-ups in the fields of digital tech, industrial tech, life sciences, chemistry and related business areas. More than €4 billion in capital has been invested in the HTGF portfolio by external investors in more than 1,800 follow-on financing rounds to date. In addition, the fund has already successfully sold shares in more than 150 companies.