Published: Jan. 21, 2024 By

CU Boulder today announced seven winners of the 2023-2024 translational quantum research seed grants incentivizing quantum science and technology innovations launched from the lab to accelerate them along the development path to new programs and businesses.

In April 2023, the Colorado Economic Development Commission approved nearly $1.5 million to help connect discoveries from basic and applied research to Colorado’s startup ecosystem and provide effective pathways for Colorado students to enter the quantum workforce. These translational quantum research seed grants, which are being administered by CU Boulder, are one of the first results of that funding.

“Colorado’s wealth of academic and national laboratory researchers, along with a thriving ecosystem of established and startup quantum science and technology companies, provides one-of-a-kind opportunities for students, researchers and our workforce,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and Dean of the Institutes Massimo Ruzzene. “The goal of these seed grants is to help researchers accelerate their discoveries towards commercialization. The success of quantum translation, of which these grants are a part, also has important implications for our national economy and national security.”

The awarded projects—rooted in research advances with demonstrable commercial potential—include three led by university researchers, all from CU Boulder, and four led by commercial enterprises that are pioneering the translation of quantum discoveries into products and services driving economic and everyday impact for Colorado and society. Each award provides $50,000 to advance each project and will be deployed over a period of 18 months. Additional seed grants will be made available through a similar process in each of the next two years.

“Colorado leads the world in quantum innovation, quantum companies and quantum jobs,” said Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) Executive Director Eve Lieberman. “The seed grants announced today are an important step to connect quantum discoveries in the lab to the commercial sector, continuing our state’s leadership in this important new technology and supporting the creation of new businesses and new jobs.”

The seed grants—which were made available to any Colorado research institution or industry partner—are part of an increasing investment to expand on Colorado’s longstanding reputation as a hub of quantum science and technology discovery. The region’s legacy in the global quantum community is largely a result of decades of leadership and breakthroughs emanating from the triad of CU Boulder, NIST and JILA, including four Nobel Prizes in physics awarded to affiliated quantum researchers.

In the context of an accelerating global competition to realize the vast potential promised by quantum science and technology, the push for quantum advances has been the focus of considerable public- and private-sector investment across industries in recent years. In Colorado, quantum-related activity is extending beyond the traditional Boulder triad to include a growing web of interconnected ventures that are inventing and innovating to translate research advances into commercially viable products that advance frontiers of quantum to benefit society broadly.

The CUbit Quantum Initiative at CU Boulder—a leading player in both administering the grant program and facilitating the success of the university’s quantum research productivity—is an interdisciplinary hub for quantum research intended to advance the quantum ecosystem broadly. Crafted 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 aims to advance fundamental science and build a strong foundation for novel quantum technologies and their rapid dissemination, application and commercialization.

“Colorado already has the highest number of quantum-related companies in the nation,” said Scott Sternberg, executive director of CUbit. “These grants, and those in upcoming years, will help keep the translation pipeline healthy and thereby grow our economy.”