Quantum Startup Accelerator Launches in Chicago

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Duality, a startup accelerator focused on advancing quantum science and technology, will help as many as 10 companies per year grow their businesses in the Chicago area. The University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Chicago Quantum Exchange are co-leading Duality. Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and private sector-led nonprofit P33 are founding partners.

Duality is supported by a minimum $20 million investment over the next 10 years, according to a press release.

Enrolled companies will be those that are building quantum technologies, products, applications, and related enabling technologies. The incubator’s first cohort will start the inaugural 12-month program in July and continue in person when COVID-19 restrictions lift. Companies will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, office and lab space, and $50,000 in funding. Business, entrepreneurial, and quantum science experts from each founding partners’ network and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (Chicago Booth, at which the program will be based) will provide support to participants.

“Deep tech innovations, such as quantum technologies, can take a longer time to reach market-ready maturity than typical business model innovations,” said Jay Schrankler, associate vice president and head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and adjunct professor at Chicago Booth. “Duality will provide the necessary infrastructure, guidance, and world-class business training to ensure these new quantum startups are successful.”

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that three of the eight federally funded quantum information science research centers and institutes would be based in the Chicago region: DOE QIS centers, one led by Argonne and one led by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab); and the $25 million NSF Quantum Leap Challenge for Hybrid Quantum Architectures and Networks led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The Chicago Quantum Exchange was created in 2017 to bring together academia, industry, and government to advance the science and engineering of quantum information and train the quantum workforce of the future. It now includes six academic institutions and national laboratories and more than two dozen industry, nonprofit, and international partners.

Companies are invited to apply via the Duality website and will be considered on a rolling basis until May 14.

Published: April 2021
Smallest amount into which the energy of a wave can be divided. The quantum is proportional to the frequency of the wave. See photon.
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