New seed grants available for Colorado research institutions and industry partners aim to incentivize innovation and develop the quantum workforce of the future.

The University of Colorado Boulder has long been recognized as a global leader in quantum research and education. A new grant, awarded recently by the State of Colorado’s Economic Development Commission, plans to take that one step further by investing in the “quantum ecosystem” across the state.

The project will create two seed grants administered by CU Boulder’s CUbit Quantum Initiative that can be used by any Colorado research institution or industry partner.

The hope for these grants—totalling nearly $1.2 million over three years—is that they incentivize innovation and get quantum out of the lab and into the marketplace, all while developing the workforce for the future quantum economy in Colorado.

“We are thrilled that the state, through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, or OEDIT, is investing in Colorado’s quantum workforce and future through this grant,” said Massimo Ruzzene, vice chancellor for research and innovation and dean of the institutes at CU Boulder. “While the seed grants will be administered by CUbit, beneficiaries of the program will include academic institutions, researchers, students and small businesses across the state.”

The national quantum economic landscape is experiencing rapid growth across the country, thanks to significant large public- and private-sector investments across industries. 

Colorado, with its established quantum research strengths and proximity to national laboratories, is “leading the development of quantum technologies,” said Eve Lieberman, executive director of OEDIT.

“This initiative will work to ensure that discoveries from basic and applied research are connected to Colorado’s startup ecosystem and provide effective pathways for Colorado students to enter the quantum workforce across the state,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman and OEDIT’s Director of Global Business Development Michelle Hadwiger see the potential of this program to create a new pipeline for the state’s Advanced Industries Accelerator program, which supports access to capital, innovation and commercialization within these important sectors.

“Quantum is a cross-cutting enabling technology that has implications for multiple industries and disciplines,” said Hadwiger. “Getting innovation out of the labs and into the market is paramount to remaining competitive on a national and global scale.”

CU Boulder’s CUbit Quantum Initiative seeks to help Colorado’s quantum ecosystem take that next step.

CUbit (pronounced “q-bit”)  is an interdisciplinary hub for quantum research. Built to focus the nexus of CU Boulder, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s physics division (as a core component of JILA) and quantum-focused companies, CUbit’s mission is to advance fundamental science and build a strong foundation for novel quantum technologies and their rapid dissemination, application and commercialization. 

To build a stronger quantum ecosystem in Colorado, CUbit will use the grant to increase the number of spin-off companies built from innovation stemming from labs, as well as to create a more organized educational pipeline and quantum-ready workforce development system. To do that, the seed grants will be awarded to both academic and industry entities statewide. 

Seed grants are open to any quantum researcher, academic institution or company in Colorado. Particular emphasis will be given to researchers and industries outside of the Front Range. 

“CU Boulder is already recognized as a global leader in quantum research and education. By strengthening quantum-focused collaborations across Colorado, the university can help boost the entire quantum ecosystem and provide even more opportunities and impact across the state and region,” said Ruzzene.

The application cycle is currently being established and is anticipated to kick off as early as this summer.