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From left to right: Ton van ‘t Noordende (Investor in Residence, Quantum Delta NL), Matthijs Rijlaarsdam (QuantWare). Alessandro Bruno (QuantWare), Freeke Heijman (director Quantum Delta NL). Photos by Rebekka Mell, in the DiCarlo Lab (QuTech).

Quantum Delta NL announces the launch of a two million euro micro fund called ‘LightSpeed Fund 1’. The fund will focus on supporting early stage quantum startups. Delft-based startup and participant in the LightSpeed program, QuantWare, is the first startup to receive funding.

The fund is part of Quantum Delta NL’s strategic roadmap to increase the number of successful quantum startups in the Netherlands. Currently, there are seven quantum startups in the Netherlands, and Quantum Delta NL is on a mission to see this number increase to 100 by 2027. These companies are considered to become of great value to the Dutch economy.

In pursuit of this goal, last month Quantum Delta NL launched its new initiative, LightSpeed. Lightspeed is a program connecting Dutch quantum startups in all phases, where the startups receive tailored assistance and guidance to scale up their businesses and optimize their attractiveness to top-tier investors. Specifically for the initiative, efforts were made to approach and bring in European and American funds with a wealth of experience to support startups. Lightspeed aims to create optimal conditions to build sustainable and future-proof startups.

Fund

Following today’s launch of the micro fund, managed by LightSpeed, Quantum Delta NL awards pre-seed tickets amounting to 50,000 euros each to early-stage startups in the field of quantum technology. LightSpeed adapted a modern instrument that is straightforward, founder-friendly and fills the gap in the earliest stage for quantum technology startups: the SAFE note (Simple Agreement for Future Equity). This approach gives startups the maximum flexibility needed in the earliest stages, particularly in the quantum technology space as development timelines and road to profitability extend far beyond that of classic startups. The investment does not have to be repaid, as with a traditional  convertible loan or note, if a startup fails to advance.

Quantum Delta NL’s Investor in Residence Ton van ‘t Noordende clarifies: “The Netherlands has a top position globally if we look at the number of quantum technology startups. This is unfortunately not the case on the capital side as there is virtually no professional venture capital available for early stage quantum startups. Our goal with Lightspeed is to enable founders to get the best possible start of their company.”

Quantum Delta NL has currently allocated two million euros for the pre-seed tickets and intends to award 5 to 15 tickets in fiscal year 2021/2022 and 35 to 40 tickets over the total period. The budget will be increased once Phase 1 of the National Growth Fund Program is underway.

QuantWare

QuantWare, a spinout of QuTech and part of the Quantum Delft ecosystem which develops high-performance quantum processors, is the first startup to tap into the microfund as part of a larger investment round. This makes it the second success story in the LightSpeed program. LightSpeed has also supported and guided the Delft-based startup QphoX in their fundraising round, which raised two million euros in funding with the help of the LightSpeed team to bring its Quantum Modem to the market.

Ambition

Startups and building a business ecosystem are key pillars of the Quantum Delta NL-program that heard it will receive  615 million euros from the National Growth Fund in April. Among other things, the program fuels the further development of the first European quantum computer and a quantum internet, openly accessible to end users in business and social sectors, including education. McKinsey calculated that in the medium term, the program will raise the gross domestic product by 5 to 7 billion euros and create 30,000 high-quality jobs in the Netherlands.

Freeke Heijman, director Quantum Delta NL: “We want the knowledge from the scientific labs to lead to new businesses in the Netherlands and Europe. With LightSpeed and this fund, promising initiatives will get an unprecedented acceleration to scale up their idea to a startup or scale-up.”

Ton van ‘t Noordende, Investor in Residence Quantum Delta NL: “We see the micro fund as a logical extension of LightSpeed. Promising and early stage initiatives only need a small injection of capital to hit the ground running. This is proven by QuantWare which, relying on our investment and on Lightspeed’s guidance, has raised immediate market capital even before launching their company.”

Alessandro Bruno, Director of Engineering at QuantWare: “The support from this fund and LightSpeed will allow us to bring our quantum processors to market. In doing so, we are making quantum accessible to more parties. In this way, we can make a crucial contribution that allows the Dutch quantum ecosystem to build on its current lead.”

Original press release here

Quantum Delta NL launches LightSpeed, a program that can connect Dutch quantum startups with 13.6 billion in investment capital, managed by European and U.S. funds. The startups will be guided by Quantum Delta NL’s Investor in Residence Ton van ‘t Noordende (founder PHX, founder and former deep tech investor | 01Ventures).

With LightSpeed, quantum startups will receive personalized tailored assistance to scale their businesses and optimize their attractiveness to investors. Specifically for the project, contact has been made with European and American funds, totalling up to 13.6 billion in investment capital. By helping these startups with everything related to scaling their business and fundraising, rapid scenario planning, cap table assessment and finding investors, Quantum Delta NL wants to increase the number of successful quantum startups founded in the Netherlands. Currently, the country has 7 official quantum startups. This number should grow to 100 by 2028. These companies are considered to become of great value to the Dutch economy.

LightSpeed is built for Dutch quantum startups in all phases, ranging from pre-foundation to series B and everything in between, with a focus on market validation and investment. The LightSpeed-team has led the effort and guided Delft-based quantum modem startup QphoX to successfully raise 2 million euros in funding, right out of stealth. The funding round was led by a European syndicate of top deeptech investors, Quantonation, Speedinvest and High-Tech Gründerfonds, with participation from TU Delft University.

Ambition
Startups and building a business ecosystem are key pillars of the Quantum Delta NL-programme that received 615 million euros from the National Growth Fund last month. Among other things, the programme fuels the further development of the first European quantum computer and a quantum internet, openly accessible to end users in business and social sectors, including education. McKinsey calculated that in the medium term, the programme will lead to a contribution to the gross domestic product of 5 to 7 billion euros and 30,000 high-quality jobs in the Netherlands.

Freeke Heijman, director Quantum Delta NL: “Building a business ecosystem is an important pillar of the Quantum Delta NL programme. We want the scientific knowledge which is developed in our quantum labs, to also lead to new business activity within the Netherlands and Europe. Because of LightSpeed, promising initiatives receive an unprecedented acceleration to scale their idea into a startup or scale up. Central to our guidance is the startup team’s specific needs.”

Ton van ‘t Noordende, Investor in Residence Quantum Delta NL: “Our goal is to make the Netherlands the number one quantum technology startup ecosystem in the world. That’s why LightSpeed is all about the builders. The founders who will actually make the quantum leap. We are there to facilitate their journey and provide the best possible, personalized support and access to top investors worldwide. We take a reverse approach to classic acceleration processes. It is not the stage they are in that counts, but the potential. With our network and support, we make sure they go from zero to 100 quickly.”

Simon Gröblacher, Co-founder QphoX: “LightSpeed is specifically designed to address the toughest question for any startup founder: are you ready to scale and if so, where do you start to discover investment-related parties that can help secure your vision? It has been incredibly helpful for us to take on this challenge with help from inspiring entrepreneurs like Ton van ‘t Noordende.”

Simon Gröblacher works on QphoX’ quantum modem. Photo: Rebekka Mell

The Seed Capital scheme, which RVO implements on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK), has existed for 15 years. Thanks to the scheme, the Dutch venture capital market has expanded enormously since 2005 and access to venture capital for start-ups has improved significantly. 87 Seed Capital funds have already been set up to provide 472 start-ups with venture capital. In total, more than € 414 million was invested, of which around € 203 million came from the government.

Thanks to these investments, good results have been achieved over the past 15 years. To commemorate its 15th anniversary, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) publishes the anniversary book “Innovative Netherlands in bloom – 15 years of Seed Capital 2005 – 2020”.

It contains interviews with a number of fund managers, in which some examples of success of participations pass in review. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK), the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and some advisory committee members also give their views on the scheme. Finally, the results of the past 15 years are clearly presented at the back. You can download the publication here (Dutch PDF).

Further development

The Seed Capital scheme has been further developed in recent years. For example, since the end of 2016 it has been possible to open sector-specific tenders that tie in with important economic and social themes such as sustainability, agri-horti-food and e-health. The separate e-health tender from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) is a good example of this.

In addition, a separate section was opened in 2017 especially for couples of business angels: the Seed Business Angel scheme. Through this scheme, business angels deliver ‘smart money’ to start-ups in the very early stages of life by supporting them with their knowledge, network and experience.

New sectors

The Seed Capital advisory committee looks back with pride on the past 15 years and sees that the scheme is still desperately needed. Initially, mainly funds were set up with a focus on IT and life sciences. In recent years, more and more new funds have been added that focus on food, social impact and clean tech, for example. Chairman of the advisory committee Michel van Bremen therefore sees the Seed Capital scheme as a kind of icebreaker for new sectors: “Every time a new sector arises, the Seed Capital scheme attracts investors to it. Without the support of the Seed Capital scheme, they would not have dared to invest. After all, new segments are risky. ”

Cooperation

The Dutch health market benefits from e-health innovations due to the increasing demand for care. In order to attract more risk capital in this sector, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport sought cooperation with EZK. In 2017, this resulted in the opening of a separate e-health tender within the Seed Capital scheme. NextGen Ventures is one of the Seed Capital funds that was established thanks to this tender and that helps e-health start-ups in their development. According to fund manager Matthijs Blokhuis, the Seed Capital scheme makes NextGen Ventures easier and attracts more investors: “The fact that we meet the requirements for Seed Capital inspires confidence among investors. That makes it more attractive for me as a fund manager to invest early in start-ups in a risky market. ”

Over Seed Capital

The Seed Capital-scheme is aimd at innovative techno- and creative startups  who need access to risk capital investment. Since January 1, 2021 a new rond of the Seed Capital-regeling is open and investors can apply for funding to establish a new Seed Capital fund.

Are you an entrepreneur? You can apply direct to the Seed Capital investment funds. Check the complete alfabetical overview of funds (in Dutch) or the overview per sector.