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Quantum technology: Pixel Photonics receives €1.45 million seed funding

Photo: Impres­si­ons from the lab — multi-chan­nel single photon detec­tor from Pixel Photo­nics GmbH (© Pixel Photo­nics GmbH / Dr. Wladick Hartmann)
29. March 2022

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).

About Quan­to­na­tion
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.

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About REACH
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.

 

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