Carlos Abellan, Quside Technologies:"Catalonia can build a very strong hub in quantum and photonics technology"
23 Feb 2023
Tech & Digital Transformation
Carlos Abellan is the co-founder & CEO of the Catalan company Quside Technologies, founded in 2017, which designs semiconductor chips and randomness solutions for the high-performance security and computing markets. It is a spinoff of the prestigious Institute of Photonics Sciences (ICFO) that has, from Catalonia, positioned itself as one of the world's leading companies in the quantum random number generators market.
Abellan, who has received the MIT Innovators 35 Under 35 award, explains that Quside Technologies is in the process of making a significant investment in the semiconductor field to scale up its business. To do so, the company has recently obtained an investment round from the German photonics company Trumph and the Bullnet investment fund, specializing in deep-tech companies.
Quside Technologies' CEO welcomes the growth of the technology ecosystem in Barcelona, with recent announcements of significant investments by Cisco and Intel, among others. According to Abellan, who next week will participate in the Mobile World Congress as part of the European Quantum Space initiative, Catalonia has an ecosystem rich in quantum and photonics technology.
What technology has been developed at Quside?
Quside designs and sells the most advanced randomization solutions on the market. They are solutions for two markets: high security (cryptography) and high-performance computing.
We are now going through a very significant time with our attention focused on the new cryptography, so that it can stand up to quantum attacks. On the computational side, there is also a lot of activity because it is a very widely used technology in a lot of sectors, such as finance, insurance and logistics, for example.
We launched a new product last December, the RPU One (Randomness Processing Unit) based on high-speed, high-quality, quantum-based random number generation and fine-tuned hardware acceleration.
Our customers are either original equipment manufacturers (such as HP, Cisco, and Dell) or application developers for sectors such as banking.
What's your competitive difference?
In the global quantum random number generators market, currently, we are one of three competing companies. And we have very important differential factors with our competitors and we are growing in market share.
Our solution gives incomparable performances in speed, quality and size. We have a chip that runs at up to a gigabit per second, while a competitor chip goes at one megabit per second, a thousand times slower.
“We've made a large investment and the result is a chip we can produce at scale today, and that's a big differentiating factor of Quside”
Carlos Abellan, co-founder & CEO of Quside Technologies
We have designed a semiconductor chip. We've made a large investment and the result is a chip we can produce at scale today, and that's also another big differentiating factor of Quside. Today we are in smaller niche applications, but in our business plan there is this scalability from day one.
What impact will the announcements made by companies such as Cisco, Intel and Lenovo, regarding their investments in Catalonia in the semiconductors sector, have on your growth?
I think it's great news for the ecosystem. It is extremely beneficial that the companies that are our potential customers are close at hand. Undoubtedly it will make it harder to find talent and retain it, but it also has great implications for a project like ours.
What's your view on the field of science and innovation in Catalonia?
I know very well what ICFO does and it's amazing to see its impact on a global level, as well as the research it performs and its level of output. Quside is in Castelldefels (Barcelona) so as to be close to this fantastic ecosystem.
The other element that is also very significant and I know very well is the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. Everything they do in computing terms, chip development, high-performance computing is also amazing.
We're very well served here. From the quantum point of view, we are one of several startups in Catalonia. We have a very rich ecosystem in quantum technology and photonics and I think we can build a very strong hub.
It's important to attract talent, investment and professionals who choose to come here, but I think it's exceptional. The same for the universities. At Quside we sign on master's and degree students and the level of talent coming out of them is very high.
What are Quside's growth plans?
We closed a seven-figure funding round at the end of the year with new investors, and now we have two things in mind. Our quantum products are ready to sell, and part of this investment will be used to make this line of business sustainable on its own.
Secondly, we want to continue scaling up in chips and semiconductors. We have to make significant investments, some aligned with the EU Chips Act and the Spanish PERTE (Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation). This will allow us to scale to new markets. We are now in satellite, defense, high security, and data center markets, and we want to reach ledge environments, gateways, and even end consumers.
What will you be presenting at the Mobile World Congress?
We've participated in the Mobile World Congress (MWC) since 2018. This year, Quside will be within the European Quantum Space Pavilion (Hall 4, Stand 4A10). We want to present our new product, RPU One, and try to find customers and users. We already have the first customers in the financial sector. And we will continue to show the evolution of our semiconductor chip, which we launched at last year's MWC.
What did it mean for you to receive the Innovators 35 Under 35 by MIT Award?
I got the award when I left ICFO and it was a great moment because I was just setting up the company. It felt wonderful because it represented everything we had done: a whole lot of research.
In 2022 we got another recognition. Back in 2015, we made a series of devices that were used in experiments in research groups, one of which received the 2022 Nobel Prize. These devices that were already recognized with the Innovators 35 Under 35 award have now contributed here too, and for me and the whole team it was excellent news.
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