Leveraging Government Funding to Grow: An Interview with David Roy-Guay, CEO SBQuantum

SBQuantum’s novel quantum magnetometer reveals structures underground, underwater or those concealed by the environment. It aims to be the leader in magnetic intelligence, for eye-precision navigation and detection of hidden objects. Since 2017, the company has secured nearly $2M in non-dilutive funding, grown from three researchers to twelve employees, and acquired two paying public and corporate customers. 

How does SBQuantum get there?
Before SBQuantum, David spent most of his time in the lab conducting research on nitrogen vacancy diamonds and green lasers to turn them into magnetometers. Being one who loves to discover and solve problems, David realized entrepreneurship created a space to explore applications beyond research, such as building a precise map of earth’s magnetic field. Hence, he decided to start his own venture. 

"I like to build; solve problems and to discover the unknowns. It’s the core of entrepreneurship. I am fortunate to be in the ecosystem with supportive organizations such as the Institut Quantique and the technology transfer office. They provided me with grant information, grant manager’s contacts and industrial connections."

While launching SBQuantum in 2017, David employed his networking and grant tracking skills to secure a total of $300K from Institute Quantique and NSRC- Alliance for the first two prototyping rounds at the Université de Sherbrooke. Even with this funding, he constantly looked out for more and set his eye on defense research contracts. David pursued IDEaS for almost 2 years and in 2019, the company received $200K funding from the Federal Program – Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS), less than 80% of what he applied for. However, David continued delivering results and maintained relationship with program managers. In 2020, the company was awarded an additional $1M to continue product development.

"The biggest risk of government funding is time uncertainty. It can be shut down at any time or processes can be delayed. We waited 5 months to confirm the IDEaS contract, making it difficult to predict our cash flows.”

Shifting Perspective

Through connections from Institut Quantique, David developed the product for a corporate partner. After spending 1.5 years advancing the technology, the project was paused as they lacked identification of customers for their Quantum technology. Joining the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) changed his perspective, David learned “not to talk about my product but understand the customer and the problems we were solving.” The mentors from Espace -Inc and ACET incubator also provided great insights into identifying market opportunities.

SBQuantum continues iterating their products, studying 6 more potential markets and user cases. They hope to quickly develop their MVP, applicable to different markets to generate recurring revenue.

Review Funding Strategy

 David acknowledges that SBQuantum’s success so far has been contributed by public funding. 

 “The best thing about government funding is that it is not diluted and allows me to build a team and credentials in a safe space. Grant officers also have more founder-friendly objectives than private investors do."

After years successfully receiving government funding, David believes now the company is ready to welcome private investors and take the business to the next level. 

David’s Messages to Entrepreneurs, Government, Private Investors

David made it clear that most technical people can be risk averse and he hopes that all researchers join a good business or find a great business partner to bring their research to light.  David’s message is clear; “to the government, keep the innovation funding going! and to private Investors, let’s start the conversation!”

SBQuantum: https://www.sbquantum.com/
David’s Secret Resource for Grants:

University Based Funding:

Government Grants


Social Networks. Follow some industry consortiums:

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only.

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