Published: May 30, 2024 By

At a ceremony Tuesday, May 28, on the CU Boulder campus, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis ushered in a new bill to support the state’s rapidly growing quantum industry.

Polis signed the bill from the top floor of the JILA Tower, one of the epicenters of quantum research on campus, with a view of the Flatirons in the background.

“It’s official. Congratulations,” he told the roughly 50 people in attendance, including a contingent of scientists from JILA, a joint research institute between CU Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics that zooms in on the strange behavior of very small things—from atoms to electrons and exotic states of matter that only emerge at extremely cold temperatures. If the state receives federal funding, the new bill, HB24-1325, will provide a series of tax incentives to foster businesses, research organizations and more that seek to tap into this realm to develop new technologies. It will provide $74 million for the state’s quantum industry and could unlock up to $1 billion in new investments for the Colorado economy. 

The bill was sponsored by the bipartisan team of representatives Alex Valdez and Matt Soper, and senators Jeff Bridges and Mark Baisley. In attendance at the signing ceremony were CU Regent Lesley Smith, CU Boulder Provost Russell Moore and Massimo Ruzzene, vice chancellor for Research & Innovation and dean of the institutes at CU Boulder.

The effort highlights Colorado’s status as a new Silicon Valley for quantum technologies. They include computers that could one day outperform even the fastest supercomputers today at certain tasks and sensors that can detect methane leaks in the air above oil and gas operations.

“Quantum technology is the future of computing,” Polis said in a statement. “Today we proved that quantum is bigger and better in the West! As home to four Nobel Prize winners for quantum science, more than 3,000 quantum workers, and five of the top 20 quantum companies, Colorado is the clear future of quantum.”

Ruzzene agreed, noting that the bill will help CU Boulder build on its decades-spanning legacy of quantum research. Today, the CUbit Quantum Initiative catalyzes research on campus, expands education and workforce opportunities and links quantum advancements to industry and government efforts and more.

Three people wearing safety goggles talk in a lab amid scientific equipment

JILA Fellow Margaret Murnane, left, and her team members talk in a lab that specializes in laser science. (Credit: Glenn Asakawa/CU Boulder)

“The bill will support the construction of a state-of-the-art quantum technology incubator, a facility that is poised to be unique in the world, and that will set our state apart,” he said. “It will foster the translation of technology and catalyze innovation, expanding educational and workforce opportunities while also creating jobs and economic benefits for all of Colorado.”

Quantum legacy

CU Boulder, including through its partnership with NIST, has long been the beating heart of quantum research in Colorado. JILA was founded in 1962, and the JILA Tower opened five years later. Four scientists affiliated with CU Boulder have won the Nobel Prize in Physics for advancements in quantum science: Carl Wieman, Eric Cornell, John “Jan” Hall and David Wineland

CU Boulder faculty members and alumni have also helped to found a number of quantum companies, many based in Colorado. They include Infleqtion (formerly ColdQuanta), Vescent Photonics, LongPath Technologies, FieldLine, Inc., Atom Computing, Stable Laser Systems, KM Labs, Mesa Quantum Systems and Icarus Quantum.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce named Elevate Quantum, a coalition of 120 organizations including CU Boulder, as an official tech hub for quantum information technology—one of only two entities in the country to receive that designation.

HB24-1325 will add to that legacy. Elevate Quantum is currently competing for up to $70 million in funding from the federal government. If the state receives that funding, HB24-1325 will provide a “100% refundable income tax credit for qualifying investments in fixed capital assets as part of a coordinated plan to create a shared quantum facility.” It will also provide income tax credits for groups investing in quantum companies. 

Valdez said the bill shows that Colorado is poised to become a central player in the future of technology around the world.

“With the passage of HB24-1325, Colorado has made a bold commitment to building upon our existing quantum technology ecosystem,” he said in a statement. “The investments created through this bill send a strong message to the federal government that Colorado is ready to become the epicenter of the global quantum technology ecosystem.”