CU Boulder’s Research & Innovation Office, in partnership with the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Arts and Sciences, JILA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is announcing a new funding opportunity to support multi-disciplinary, trans-institutional research partnerships that will be competitive for future funding opportunities of the National Quantum Initiative and other quantum research solicitations.

Jan. 15, 2019: Awardees Announced CUbit Quantum Initiative 


In 2018, Congress introduced the National Quantum Initiative Act. The legislation authorizes $1.2 billion over five years to be distributed between National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Department of Energy (DOE) for quantum science research and education centers. The overarching aims of the legislation are to strengthen the country’s quantum science research capabilities and workforce as well as to improve federal planning and coordination of quantum science as it is used by the government. 

While the National Quantum Initiative awaits Senate approval, several federal agencies and the White House continue to make significant investments in quantum. The Department of Defense (DOD), for example, is creating a quantum research program while other federal agencies – including NSF and DOE – are issuing calls for proposals to fund quantum research. 

These efforts at the federal level, coupled with industry’s investments and interest in a trained quantum workforce, present a significant opportunity for CU Boulder, neighboring academic institutions and federal labs.

The QuEST Opportunity 

The Research & Innovation Office, the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Arts and Sciences, JILA and NIST have committed funding for a new funding opportunity – the Quantum Explorations in Science and Technology (QuEST) seed grant program.

QuEST will catalyze scientific and technological quantum-related breakthroughs in the Rocky Mountain region. The program aims to pair newcomers in the quantum field with established groups (e.g. Engineering/NIST or Engineering/Physics). Moreover, projects may involve collaboration among investigators in quantum physics with investigators of diverse disciplines that would not otherwise engage in quantum research. As such, proposals must have a PI and a Co-PI, with the PIs coming from different departments/organizations. This approach will promote trans-disciplinary, multi-institutional research projects focused on quantum science and technology challenges that have the potential to be transformative.

A second key goal for this funding initiative is to increase competitiveness, i.e. position awardees to compete for current and future funding opportunities within the National Quantum Initiative and other federal solicitations. QuEST’s emphasis on trans-disciplinary collaboration is aligned with anticipated federal and industry opportunities.

By leveraging existing strengths in quantum within CU Boulder’s Colleges, JILA and NIST, our community is well-positioned to make broad advances in the quantum arena, focusing on five pillars:

  1. Quantum metrology and sensing
  2. Quantum networking and communication
  3. Quantum computing
  4. Quantum materials
  5. Education and outreach

QuEST seed grants can be up to $75,000 each, although typical funding for awards is in the range of $50,000, with up to 10 awards anticipated. 

Application Process and Requirements

  • Proposal Due Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2018 by 11:59 p.m. MST
  • Expected Award Date: January 1, 2019

QuEST grant proposals are to be submitted electronically through the Research & Innovation Office’s application portal and are reviewed by faculty volunteers. Applicants should follow the format outlined in the Proposal Requirements section below.

Application Portal

Proposal Requirements

Proposals should use clear writing appropriate for non-specialists and make a strong case for the importance of the project to those outside the discipline. Proposal documents should be in Arial 11-point type with at least 0.5" margins and should include the PI's name and the year of proposal within the document title (e.g., TFiez2018QuEST.pdf).

All proposals should include the components below in one PDF document and be clearly marked by section. Proposals that fail to comply with these requirements will not be reviewed.

Proposal/Project Plan: Describe the aims, significance, methods, and expected outcomes of the project, highlighting any new or creative directions, future payoff potential, or value/impact. For relevant disciplines, describe why the concept will be competitive for future external sponsor funding; identify specific external programs to be targeted for future funding requests. The maximum length is 5 pages, including tables, figures, charts, references, and any other supporting information.

Supplemental Materials (these materials do not count toward the 5-page proposal limit):

  • PI Curriculum Vitae: Up to 2 pages.
  • Co-PI Curriculum Vitae: Up to 2 pages.
  • Abstract/Project Summary: Provide a concise summary of the project accessible to general audiences. Explain how the project will foster future research, scholarly, and creative vitality at CU Boulder. 350 words maximum; up to 1 page.
  • Co-PIs/Collaborators: Name, title, institution, unit/department, and role(s). Up to 1 page.
  • Budget and Budget Justification: Applicants are required to use this template for the budget. Budget requests must not exceed $75,000 and are intended to support graduate students, postdocs, or undergraduates. Requests solely for faculty salary support are highly discouraged (as a point of guidance, RIO has not seen more than two weeks of PI salary accepted by past review panels). No overhead or indirect costs are allowed. Concisely provide a justification of the items requested in the budget. Particular attention should be given to justifying budget items that may not be obvious to reviewers who are familiar with (but are not experts in) your specific field. The budget and budget justification should be no more than 2 pages.
  • Honors, Awards, Representative Scholarly Work or Publications Relevant to Proposal: Highlight published work that directly addresses the PI’s ability to carry out the proposed project. Up to 2 pages.


CU Boulder Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty, Senior Instructors, and Career Track Research Faculty who hold an appointment of half-time or greater are eligible to apply. 

The lead PI must be employed by CU Boulder. Co-PIs are allowed, including from NIST. Collaborators from other institutions are also permitted.  

At a minimum, proposals must have a PI and a Co-PI, with the PIs coming from different departments/organizations.

Additional eligibility information:

  • Applicants may submit no more than one proposal as PI.
  • Projects with a major scientific or budgetary overlap with the PI’s active research support are not eligible.
  • Projects with a primary focus on curriculum development are not eligible.
  • Applicants with existing resources that could be used to fund their proposal are discouraged.


Contact with any questions or comments.