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Robert Schoelkopf spent more than 15 years studying the building blocks of quantum computers until, in 2015, he decided it was time to start constructing one. The physicist and his colleagues at Yale University began pitching their start-up firm Quantum Circuits, Inc. to investors, hoping to persuade venture capitalists that the time was ripe to pour cash into a quantum-computing company. Within two years, the team had secured US$18 million. That was enough to build a specialist laboratory — which opened this January — in a science park near the university in New Haven, Connecticut, and to employ around 20 scientists and engineers.