Government & Politics  July 2, 2024

Elevate Quantum wins ‘game changer’ Tech Hub designation

Initiative unlocks $127M in government funding

DENVER — Colorado’s quantum leaders were thanking their lucky qubits on Tuesday morning after the federal government announced that the industry would be receiving a massive funding boost from U.S. Department Of Commerce’s Tech Hub program

Elevate Quantum, a nonprofit consortium of about 70 stakeholders in the quantum space who represent industry, academia, capital and laboratories in Colorado and New Mexico, beat out a similar group from Illinois to win a phase two Tech Hub designation from the DOC’s Economic Development Agency, unlocking $127 million in state and federal funds, which are expected to generate several billion more dollars of private investment in the region’s quantum industry. 

“I think some champagne is soon to be popped and there are fist bumps going around for sure,” Matt Kinsella, CEO of Boulder-born quantum-technology firm Infleqtion, told BizWest.

From money set aside as part of the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, Elevate Quantum will receive $40.5 million from the federal government. New Mexico will chip in $10 million.

To further sweeten the pot, Colorado lawmakers this legislative session passed the bipartisan Colorado Quantum Tax Credit bill, which would provide $74 million in state funding for the quantum field should the federal government select the state for the second Tech Hub Phase. That funding faucet will now be turned on.

“This decision shows that America is serious about being a global leader in quantum technology, the future of computing. Colorado is the center of the quantum technology ecosystem and we are thrilled that the Biden administration is supporting our work to develop the best minds, research, and innovation in the country,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a prepared statement. “Our region has always played a critical role in advanced technology and we’re proud to be supporting these efforts through a state investment of $74 million that was conditional on this federal award and will now be activated.”

Quantum theory attempts to explain the behavior of matter at atomic and subatomic levels. Because quantum computers take advantage of special properties of quantum systems such as superposition, their computing power and speed is exponentially greater than a traditional computer. 

Applications of quantum science could revolutionize the way humans discover new drug therapies, map the cosmos, protect sensitive data, combat climate change and maybe even discover new forms of life in deep space.

The Boulder Valley — with the world-class University of Colorado Boulder physics department, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and JILA (formerly known as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) — has become, over the past three decades or so, the epicenter of quantum research. 

“If you look back through history, so much of the foundational technology for quantum has come from Colorado and from CU in particular, with multiple Nobel Prizes won,” said Kinsella, who predicted that the Boulder Valley will likely be one of the main beneficiaries of the new Tech Hub designation. 

“My guess is that Boulder will get its fair share of this with the university being there and all of the companies that are there,” he said. 

The region, a leader in evolving quantum discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace, is home to operations from major corporate players in the still-nascent industry such as Quantinuum, a Broomfield company spun out of Honeywell International Inc. (Nasdaq: HON);  California-headquartered Atom Computing Inc., which opened a Boulder R&D center last year; and ColdQuanta Inc.,  which does business as Infleqtion and has grown into a worldwide operator with offices as far flung as Austin, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Many of the Boulder Valley players are involved in the Elevate Quantum initiative, which is chaired by Dan Caruso, founder of Boulder-based Zayo Group and of Caruso Ventures, a major investor in local quantum companies. 

Looking ahead, Elevate Quantum’s leadership group will meet next week to discuss how to “turn blueprints into brick and mortar,” the consortium said.

“There will be other pots of money that they’ll go after; this is the first of many wins that this region will experience,” Kinsella said. 

Just how the government funding will be allocated remains unclear, but the EDA must approve what efforts and programs receive money. Funded programs are expected to be implemented by 2030.

“This award will be a game-changer for our industry, providing an opportunity for researchers and companies to innovate side-by-side, accelerating the development and commercialization of quantum technologies,” Corban Tillemann-Dick, Elevate Quantum co-founder and CEO of Maybell Quantum, said in a prepared statement. “Moreover, today’s award is a down payment on the quantum future, with up to $960 million in additional potential funding available from the federal government over the next decade and billions in play from the private sector.”

Kinsella said he doesn’t expect the government to write checks directly to private companies, but public investment in research, facilities and workforce development creates “a rising tide that’s lifting all boats.”

The state and federal investment, he said, “is a huge chunk of change that I think will bring … more private capital coming behind the state and federal capital.”

Elevate Quantum beat a group from Illinois to win a phase two Tech Hub designation, unlocking $127 million in state and federal funds.

Lucas High
A Maryland native, Lucas has worked at news agencies from Wyoming to South Carolina before putting roots down in Colorado.
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