Single Blog Title

This is a single blog caption

Walking distance to partners is crucial for quantum start-up in Copenhagen Science City

Copenhagen Science City-located start-up Sparrow Quantum, CEO Kurt Stokbro in lab: Photo Sparrow Quantum

Lunchtime is important to the quantum hardware start-up Sparrow Quantum. The company headquarters are just across the street from scientific collaborators at University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, so lunch is spent picking the brains of leading quantum researchers. The rest of the day is spent building one of the world’s most advanced quantum devices. By Jes Andersen.

Pivotal role in research and development

Sparrow Quantum wants to be the Intel® of quantum computing and Cisco® of quantum communications. Specializing in devices capable of releasing one photon of light at a time, the company’s technology plays a pivotal role in optical quantum research, as well as in the advancement of optical quantum computers and communication systems. Still, the CEO anticipates that Sparrow’s technology might end up being used in many other applications.

Single photon emitters are an enabling technology, like lasers and transistors are. We are confident that our devices will become key components in optical quantum computers and communication devices. Beyond that, only time will tell”: Kurt Stokbro, CEO, Sparrow Quantum.

Spin-out from world-leading university

The company is a spinout from Copenhagen Science City-partner University of Copenhagen. It was founded in 2016 by Peter Lodahl, who is a leading quantum optics expert and professor at Niels Bohr Institute. In its early years, much of the company’s development took place in Professor Lodahl’s research labs. Access to university facilities provided a crucial foundation, but Sparrow Quantum’s expansion accelerated with the establishment of its own laboratories, Stokbro reflects.

Quantum labs are expensive to establish and can be out of reach for early-stage start-ups, so we were lucky to have access to those at the university. When we built our own lab, our luck held. The university kindly invited us to establish it at their premises, so we got the best of both worlds. We still meet university students and researchers every day but don’t have to compete for lab time with them”: Kurt Stokbro, CEO, Sparrow Quantum.

Everything a quantum company needs… Almost

Since taking on the role of CEO in 2022, Stokbro has grown the company to 20 staff and raised 8 million euros in funding. In his view, Copenhagen Science City is an excellent place to launch a quantum start-up. The only room for improvement would be an easy-access, low-cost shared lab facility – a sort of deep tech makerspace that could provide a middle step between university and company labs.

There is a growing awareness of the commercial potential of Denmark’s quantum research. We expect that more facilities will soon be made available in Copenhagen Science City for start-ups that want to work in this and other deep-tech fields”: Kristoffer Klebak, Head of Secretariat, Copenhagen Science City.

Growing while staying in place

During spring 2024, Stokbro plans to raise additional capital to double the company’s staff and establish new labs and a production facility in the building housing Sparrow Quantum’s offices on Blegdamsvej in central Copenhagen. Relocating to the outskirts of the Danish capital could save on costs, but Stokbro values the proximity to scientific collaborators across the street and the strategic advantages of maintaining close ties within the scientific community.

Whenever the Niels Bohr Institute has a visit by a foreign quantum researcher, it gives us a chance to introduce them to Sparrow’s technology. I make sure to attend talks, seminars, and Ph.D. defenses to discuss our development objectives with potential collaborators or clients, recruit new talent, and engage in valuable informal discussions within our field.”: Kurt Stokbro, CEO, Sparrow Quantum.

Top tier customers

Sparrow Quantum has steadily built a global customer base, reaching top-tier quantum research labs worldwide and supplying its components to system integrators in the commercial quantum tech sector. Notably, Sparrow’s technology will be a core component in delivering a quantum computing testbed to the UK’s national lab for quantum computing, NQCC, by ORCA Computing, a leading developer and provider of full-stack photonic quantum computing systems.

A thriving quantum community in Copenhagen Science City

University of Copenhagen has been a global centre for quantum research since 1922 when physicist Niels Bohr leveraged a Nobel Prize into funding for an institute bearing his name. More recently, several other initiatives have co-located in Copenhagen Science City in order to build on the innovation districts’ thriving quantum community.

About Copenhagen Science City

Join us in Copenhagen Science City – a world-class innovation district where you can transform your bright ideas into growth, jobs, and global solutions.
Co-locate with University of Copenhagen, University Hospital Rigshospitalet, University College Copenhagen and 500 innovative companies.
Co-create with 40,000 researchers, staff and students.
Collaborate to develop new solutions to societal challenges.
Find a job with leading academic institutions and deep-tech companies.

Learn more about our organisation…