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Small Business Briefing

Quantum computing firm D-Wave lands $30-million Add to ...

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Investors  include funding arms of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and CIA

Burnaby, B.C.-based quantum computing company D-Wave Systems Inc. raised a $30-million round of equity financing from investors including the firm that manages Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s venture investments and an investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency and broader U.S. intelligence community, the company announced.

The investments, including those from Bezos Expeditions and In-Q-Tel, mark the fifth round of funding for the company, which is developing commercial quantum computing systems, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“We are pleased to have such highly regarded investors in our company,” said D-Wave CEO Vern Brownell in the statement announcing the funding.

D-Wave's investors already include the Business Development Bank of Canada, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Goldman Sachs, Growthworks, Harris & Harris Group, International Investment and Underwriting, and Kensington Partners Ltd.

Last year, Geordie Rose, D-Wave’s founder and chief technology officer, was awarded the inaugural CIX (Canadian Innovation Exchange) innovator of the year award for his example of the world’s first functional quantum computer, which was called a “rare example of a breakthrough that will literally change the way we perceive computing going forward,” by CIX co-chair Rick Nathan in a release.

D-Wave made its first $10-million commercial sale of its system to Lockheed Martin Corp. last year, which installed it at the University of Southern Carolina, according to Reuters.

The company’s technology has raised controversy in the scientific community, Reuters reports, but  the investments mark a “vote of confidence” in the potential for practical applications from quantum computing, said Reuters and TechVibes.

The company sees its main applications in defence and intelligence, bioinformatics, and computer analytics, Reuters reports.

Ottawa biofuel firm lands $20-million investment

Ottawa-based biofuel firm Ensyn Corp. has landed a $20-million investment and a strategic alliance with Brazilian pulp giant Fibria Celulose SA, the company announced.

The two will create a joint venture to produce cellulosic (produced from wood and other inedible parts of plants) liquid fuels and chemicals. The agreement gives Fibria a 6-per-cent stake in Ensyn, which could grow to 9 per cent with additional investment, according to the release.

Ensyn has developed a technology that converts wood and other non-food biomass into renewable liquid fuels and chemicals. The latest deal comes on top of other past ones, including a joint venture with UOP, the renewable-energy arm of Honeywell International Inc.

The company’s list of shareholders includes Credit Suisse, Impax Asset Management plc, CTTV Investments LLC, a division of Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Felda Palm Industries Sdn Bhd, and Investeco Capital Corp.

Fibria is the world’s leading producer of wood pulp.

“We believe Ensyn and its technology platform, together with Fibria’s capabilities, will allow for the generation of a powerful biofuels growth business over the coming year,” said Fibria CEO Marcelo Castelli in the release.

The investment, notes The Ottawa Citizen, comes “at a time when many green technology companies are challenged to prove their potential in the marketplace.” It also suggested that the investment values Ensyn at more than $330-million, speculating it could lead to a stock-market offering or a takeover bid “by big oil companies under pressure to meet government renewable energy targets.”

Why co-founders should sign a prenup

There’s lots of excitement around founding a startup and no doubt, trust between the partners that jump in together. But, as this Business Insider piece points out, plenty of things can happen that co-founders can’t predict. So putting together and signing a prenup is “a clear-eyed way of building in flexibility so that both our friendships and our business can remain whole regardless of how life plays out,” writes Jim Price, an adjunct lecturer of entrepreneurial studies at the University of Michigan and a serial entrepreneur.


Start smart

The Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development will host a “Start Smart” information session to help walk wannabe entrepreneurs through the basic steps of opening a business. The two-hour session takes place on Oct. 10 in Halifax. For more information, click here.

Rotman’s growth experts speakers series

Will Mitchell – a professor of international management at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, a visiting professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and the co-author of Build, Borrow or Buy: Solving the Growth Dilemma – will be the featured speaker for Rotman’s business growth experts speakers series on Nov. 13. For more information, click here.

TechCrunch meetup

TechCrunch will be holding three “northern meetups,” and one of them will take place in Toronto on Nov. 5. For more information about the gathering, click here.


How to build a world-class recording studio on the cheap

In this week’s Case Study, Vancouver-based Monarch Studios’ owner had to find a way to offer better-quality production to attract bands with bigger budgets and outside producers to rent the space in off-hours.


How to keep employee poachers at bay

No business wants its work force pilfered by the competition, especially when it comes to key performers. And that’s even more so for small and medium-sized businesses, which can ill afford to lose and try to replace important players, wrote Bryan Borzykowski in a story originally published in February, 2011. He talked with the experts to find out what moves businesses that want to hang on to top talent need to make.

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