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Quantum Technology - Economic Development 101

In layman’s terms “quantum technology” harnesses widely accepted, mind-boggling principles of physics to disrupt the next generation of almost everything including communications, navigation, health care, and of course, computing. Peter Chapman, president and CEO of IonQ, one of the newer companies focusing on bringing quantum technology to market, describes the coming leap in technology, “We’re talking about solving problems in one second that would take 300 trillion years on the world’s largest supercomputer.”

It’s difficult to fathom what this will mean for industries of all kinds, but it’s no surprise that many in the economic development space are looking to ensure their location has a role in the future of quantum.

As is typical for most burgeoning industries and technologies, we’re seeing clusters form around R&D initiatives. Universities, federal labs and privately funded research centers drive the technological advancements that in turn produce spin-off companies that in turn grow into bigger companies that need products and services from other companies. (It may be quantum technology, but it’s still just Economic Development 101!)

Last year the U.S. Economic Development Administration designated 31 regional initiatives as “tech hubs,” giving them the right to compete for $500 million in funding under the CHIPS & Science Act. Two of these tech hubs are dedicated to quantum technology:

Site Selection Magazine quotes Andrew Wilson, NIST’s quantum physics division chief, as sharing that, “the Denver area has the highest density of quantum research and development companies in the nation.”

Maryland is also actively pursuing quantum technology leadership, building on a collection of start-ups and entrepreneurial operations, including IonQ, as well as R&D initiatives at the University of Maryland, the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance (MQA) and the National Quantum Lab (QLab), among others.

Virginia doesn’t intend to get left behind either and is focusing its efforts on training up the workforce. Potomac Quantum Innovation Center (PQIC), an arm of Connected DMV, a regional economic development collaboration serving the greater Washington, DC metro area, represents an innovative, proactive approach to preparing the workforce for quantum technologies.

Of course, California will also be a player, almost without trying, as the big tech companies are leading the way and investing heavily in quantum.

As a growing number of economic developers across North America, Europe and Asia put quantum in their crosshairs, it will be fascinating to watch this new technology unfold.

Tracey Hyatt Bosman, CEcD

Managing Director

Tracey Hyatt Bosman develops and executes incentives and location selection strategies for BLS & Co.'s corporate and institutional clients. She is a certified economic developer with twenty years of professional experience across a wide range of sectors, including data centers, manufacturing, headquarters, back office and contact center operations, and logistics.

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