Austrian Startups in Quantum Computing
CMS is featured in a new article in the Austrian Press "derStandard" and a case study by the Austrian Ministry for traffic, innovation, and technology
CMS is honored to have been included in a study conducted by the Austrian Ministry for Traffic, Innovation, and Technology. The study detailed below investigated opportunities for improving technology transfer from Austrian quantum technology research to industry and highlighted CMS as a success story in this rapidly evolving market segment.
“Strategische Analyse der Möglichkeiten zur stärkeren Industrialisierung der Ergebnisse der österreichischen Quantenforschung”
(As the study was conducted in German we have translated the relevant portions below)
“The startup Crystalline Mirror Solutions (CMS) can be seen as an example of a successful start-up in Austrian quantum research. The company originated from the research group of Prof. Aspelmeyer at the University of Vienna. When founding the company with its unique mirror coatings as a product, this high-performance coating was already developed and in use which helped CMS enter the market immediately. As a result, CMS also found it easier to attract investment compared to companies that have a good idea but no product-ready prototypes.
Another spin-off from Vienna, Quantum Technology Laboratories GmbH, was founded in 2017 by Dr. Ing. Ursin. Dr. Ursin currently sees himself mainly in an advisory role and industrial prototyping for quantum communication technologies.
The most noteworthy new spin-off development is certainly the recent creation of Alpine Quantum Technologies GmbH (AQT), founded by Prof. Blatt, Prof. Zoller, and Dr. Ing. Monz, based in Innsbruck. It aims to bring modular ion-based quantum computers to market within 3 years. The modular approach should create as much freedom as possible and ensure independence in the supply chain. Although the number of qubits is not as high as in superconducting systems, AQT has a technological advantage: the qubits can have a higher quality, a greater number of them can interact, and an interface to optical quantum networks can be more easily implemented. AQT is already realizing results whereas others might not reach this level for years to come. The exact exploitation strategy includes both a service offering (selling computing time) for the distribution of the individual quantum modules and a complete quantum computer.
Among the surveyed researchers, the incentive to start a business primarily correlates with the theoretical or experimental nature of the respective research activity. While spin-offs are not typically considered in the theory-oriented groups of, for example, Prof. Rabl and Prof. Brukner, the experimental groups of Prof. Arndt (smart laser safety goggles), Prof. Walther (one-time programs), and Dr. Trupke (molecular detection by means of quantum sensors) certainly consider the possibility to go in the direction of company formation.
The founding of spin-off companies has also entered the consciousness of universities. For this purpose, support and mentoring for the company founders is offered as part of their knowledge transfer centers. For example, at IST Austria, a technology park was set up where in-house and external spin-offs can move to laboratories and offices. The IST also offers lectures on the establishment of startups.
The spin-off CMS proved that it is also possible to attract investors in Austria. Among their investors are the AWS (Seed Financing), tecnet, I.E.C.T. – Institute for Entrepreneurship Cambridge Tyrol, and a Swiss investor group. An existing product and patents were helpful in this direction. AQT, in the current filing phase of patents and securing existing IPRs, finds it more difficult to leverage investment and is still looking for suitable partners. There is currently AWS PreSeed funding and support from STARTUP.TIROL.
Just as important was the support and promotion via seed programs of the AWS for both CMS and AQT. The relatively unbureaucratic application, as well as the proactive appearance are seen as very positive. In part, the overly rigid structures at the universities, which were responsible for the emerging spin-offs, were criticized for making it difficult to use the university infrastructure longer term. According to the researchers involved, other bureaucratic hurdles should be reduced when it comes to the establishment of start-ups.”