New €15M fund for early-stage quantum startups launches in the Netherlands

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A new €15 million fund has launched to help quantum technology research in the Netherlands transform into venture capital-investable startups.

Backed by Quantum Delta NL (QDNL), a foundation that seeks to boost and scale the Dutch quantum ecosystem, the so-called QDNL Participations fund has a twofold focus: early-stage startups in the sector and research teams working on promising quantum technologies before they incorporate as startups.

In the first case, the funding will reach up to €1.5 million — with the foundation typically leading the investment round. In the second case, the fund will offer €50,000 to researchers via a SAFE note agreement, meaning that the funding will be converted into an equity investment once the startup is ready to progress as a business.

“We get in early and provide objective and patient capital.

The fund expects to make around 10-15 SAFE note investments (of €50,000) and around 5-10 seed investments (of up to €1.5 million), Ton van ‘t Noordende, Managing Director of QDNL Participations, told TNW. “We get in early and we can provide objective and patient capital.”

The fund plans to invest in companies across the quantum sector, including hardware, sensors, entanglement, and superposition technologies, as well as communications and essential supply components.

According to QDNL’s proprietary data, 32.7% of sector funding has gone to software, while 64.4% has been invested in hardware, and almost 3% in hybrid hardware-software.“We expect to follow this trend,” said Van ’t Noordende.

As for the research teams that wish to enter the startup world, they’ll be primarily sourced from leading Dutch universities, including TU Delft, the Eindhoven University of Technology, the University of Tweente, Leiden University, and the University of Amsterdam.

“Spinning out of academia still a bottleneck for European researcher-driven entrepreneurship.

Alongside QDNL Participations, the foundation has also launched a support programme for emerging quantum tech founders, called Infinity. This is designed to help Dutch academic researchers navigate the university spin-out process and raise their first funding round, by providing them access to a network of more than 800 deeptech investors worldwide.

Infinity is offered as an “on-call” service for whenever it might be needed, and is free of charge.

“We believe there’s a massive untapped potential as billions of value in new innovations are left unshared and uncommercialised. Spinning out of academia remains a bottleneck for European researcher-driven entrepreneurship,” Van ‘t Noordende added. 

Addressing the funding gap in quantum technology

Fundraising is “the number one challenge” for Dutch deep tech startups, Van ‘t Noordende told TNW. “The [funding] gap does not only exist in the Netherlands, but Europe-wide. Investments raised by US-, UK-, and Canada-headquartered startups account for circa 80% of the value of all private investments in quantum technology and circa 62% of all private rounds.”

As he further explained, the majority of funding “is directed at and above Series A stages,” while multiple factors lead to a lack of an early-stage funding. There’s not only a lack of investors specialised in early-stage investment, but it’s also challenging for investors outside of scientific communities to know “where to invest or how to provide longer term support.”

QDNL Participations aims to address this problem by incorporating a global network of leading quantum tech researchers in the process, who are actively involved in a startup’s early stages, and could later become scientific advisors or board members.

“Our fund removes the risks of what’s seen as a ‘wild bet’ and, through direct intervention, increases the likelihood of long-term impact and financial success,” Van ‘t Noordende added.

According to QDNL’s co-founder and Director of Ecosystem Development Freeke Heijman, the goal of Infinity and the new fund is to enable the sustainable growth of quantum startups in the Netherlands, so they can compete in the global market.

And with the quantum tech market expected to reach above €3 billion in value by 2030, sufficient funding to build resilient ecosystems will play a pivotal role.