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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people and recognise any other people or families with connection to the lands of the ACT and region.

Vikram Sharma bounced around the world throughout his childhood.

From Dar es Salaam to Chicago and Delhi, it was a dramatic change for the family to land in Canberra in the early 1980s, when his father was posted here as India’s High Commissioner. 

“We arrived in winter,” Vikram recalls. “It was just a fledgling city then, and much smaller than anywhere else I had lived.

“I recall looking at the rolling hillside around me and being struck by the lack of density, the sparsity.”

Studying at what became the University of Canberra, it was the Canberrans themselves who made their mark on Vikram.

“It was the friendliness, the openness, the genuineness of the people that I met, 

he explains

“My initial impressions were of a stunningly beautiful place and very welcoming people.” 

Making friends helped entrench Vikram in the city that became his primary home for the next 40 years, despite the world’s best efforts to lure him overseas. He chose to stay on in the capital to finish his first degree after his father’s posting finished. On completion of the degree, he was recruited by an Australian computer technology company expanding into New York. 

His stint in the United States was an extraordinary opportunity. The company was keen to sponsor Vikram’s Green Card, but his heart lay in the quiet, familiar and lush capital.

“The magnetism of Canberra drew me back,” Vikram says.

He went on to establish his first company in Canberra and its expansion led to an opportunity to spend more time in India. 

“But again, I chose to return to Canberra,”

Next, he received an incredible opportunity to join the renowned Sloan Program, at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. 

“At the conclusion of the program something odd happened,” Vikram recalls. 

Taking a sabbatical, he sat in on quantum physics PhD-level classes at Stanford. Quantum technologies were emerging, and the technology’s intersection with cybersecurity piqued his interest.

“I was absolutely astonished to find that, back on my doorstep, a team at the ANU was about to embark in cutting edge research in exactly this field,” Vikram says.

Expecting a second child by then, Vikram and his wife resisted the allure of other world-class opportunities on offer and returned to Canberra for a third time. 

“That mid-career opportunity to come back and join research work at the ANU led to some world firsts,” Vikram says. “Our team was awarded the national Eureka prize for science in 2006.”

Vikram founded quantum cybersecurity company QuintessenceLabs in 2008. His team has found a way to use quantum physics to create security so robust, on such a large scale, they’ve become the first choice in advanced data protection for government and large enterprises.

“It’s no news to anyone that the number of data breaches and attempts to steal sensitive information are escalating rapidly,” he says.

“In parallel, billions of dollars are being spent all around the world to build quantum computers, because they will offer us incredible capabilities – solving all kinds of problems that we can’t solve today. For all the benefits they will offer, quantum computers will break most technologies in use today to secure sensitive data.

With quantum computers at scale becoming a reality in the next few years, we help organisations protect themselves against the cyber threat from a quantum-enabled adversary. We support them becoming quantum resilient.

Emerging from world-leading research at ANU, QuintessenceLabs is now a global leader in its field. Vikram serves on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Cybersecurity and is a member of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, the Forbes Technology Council, and the Sydney Quantum Academy Advisory Board.

I’m a long-term Canberran and absolutely in love with our city, he explains

“But more than my personal passion for it, the city provides an incredible array of facilities which make it a perfect place to start and scale a deep tech company like QuintessenceLabs.”

Canberra provides access to policy makers, Vikram says, as well as large-scale customers to support early validation of ideas, technology and capability.

“This city offers you access to a highly skilled workforce through the excellent university system, and personnel with government and defence backgrounds who are very experienced in technology,” he says.

“As we matured the deep science which underlies our product set and translated it into high-value cybersecurity solutions for government, defence, and enterprise customers, we’ve seen significant overseas interest in supporting scale-up of the company and investing into the Canberra economy.

“Whenever in overseas markets, we proudly announce we’re Australian headquartered – based in Canberra.

“We’re doing cutting-edge science here that has never been done anywhere in the world.”

Published date: 14 Jun 2023
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