November 15, 2023

Chicago is emerging as a quantum tech hub

Source: Axios Chicago


The Chicago area is quickly emerging as a national leader in quantum technology.

What's happening: The region was recently designated a quantum technology hub by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which will bring federal funding to area universities.

Why it matters: Leaders hope the new designation and collaboration among universities and national laboratories like FermiLab and Argonne will spark a new wave of research, innovation and experimentation.

  • "It's going to create good-paying jobs for the people of Illinois," Sen. Tammy Duckworth tells Axios.

Context: The cutting-edge particle can do everything from speed up broadband, eliminate hacking, and create new medicines and treatments in the quest to cure cancer.

What they're saying: "Drug companies and professors know how to make new medicine, but even supercomputers don't have enough power to make it happen," Nick Farina, CEO of Chicago quantum computing startup EeroQ, tells Axios.

  • "With quantum computing, we'll create breakthrough new drugs for the most serious and intractable diseases on the planet."

Driving the news: Late last week, Duckworth met with scientists and engineers in the public and private sectors, Illinois universities and the Chicago Quantum Exchange to learn more about how the state can use federal funds to further quantum innovation.

  • "This is a reinvention of industry and manufacturing," Duckworth says. "It's going to solve problems not just in our state, but for the entire country."

Zoom in: The University of Illinois just launched the first public quantum network at a library in Urbana.

  • "I'm motivated by the opportunity to improve people's lives," University of Illinois physics professor Virginia Lorenz tells Axios. "Especially in communities that tend not to get the access to new technology."

The intrigue: Duckworth's meeting was held at The Terminal, a new building and research facility in West Humboldt Park. The building is ideal for quantum experiments, because it's located far from the rumble of expressways and train lines, which is crucial for studying particles.

What's next: The designation is only the first step in the federal government's attempt to "supercharge" innovation around quantum.

  • Duckworth hopes to include funds for quantum research and development in next year's CHIPS and Science Act.

By:  Justin Kaufmann