Technology  February 2, 2024

Editorial: State’s quantum, climate technology initiatives reflect culture of innovation

Colorado’s advancement in two new federal research initiatives will further cement the state’s culture of innovation.

Elevate Quantum, a consortium of about 70 stakeholders in the quantum space, has helped the state advance in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “Tech Hub” program for the advancement of quantum technologies.

Colorado, along with partners New Mexico and Wyoming, is competing with Illinois — principally Chicago — with the winner able to access potentially billions in federal dollars to advance quantum research.

And the Colorado-Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine has been designated a Regional Innovation Engine by the National Science Foundation, with potential to access $160 million in federal funds over the next decade.

The CO-WY Engine includes a consortium of universities, including Colorado State University, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Northern Colorado and other partners, and is led by Innosphere, the Fort Collins-based technology incubator.

Both initiatives reflect the cutting-edge science that is conducted at Colorado’s federal laboratories, research universities and private industry.

Strength in quantum science, for example, can be traced to the arrival of the National Bureau of Standards Boulder laboratories in 1954. Now called the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST has played a crucial role in the emergence and growth of photonics and quantum companies in the Boulder area.

And climate research has been the focus of many federal laboratories, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, among others.

These laboratories have worked closely with research universities, sometimes in jointly operated research centers to advance climate science.

In both the quantum and climate initiatives, Colorado has partnered with neighboring states to advance its proposals. This was done both to take advantage of research strengths in New Mexico and Wyoming, and to demonstrate collaboration and multistate impact of potential selection.

While it’s still unknown whether Illinois or Colorado-New Mexico-Wyoming will be designated as the quantum hub, there can be no doubt that the state ranks as a global leader in quantum technologies.

That’s due to the decades of emphasis on science and technology transfer — getting cutting-edge innovations into the marketplace — that has characterized the region’s emergence as a center for innovation.

Proponents of the quantum and climate initiatives — including Innosphere CEO Mike Freeman, who helped lead the climate-hub application — deserve praise for advancing Colorado as a center for science and innovation.

Both initiatives will help Colorado remain a key player in driving innovation in the key technologies of the future.

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