The quantum race is here, and Colorado is poised to lead the pack

December 30, 2022

One tech leader described Colorado as a "good petri dish for quantum to grow."

By Nikki Wentling  –  Reporter, Denver Business Journal

Frannie Matthews, the president and CEO of the Colorado Technology Association, was growing up in central Florida when the state developed its Space Coast, where Apollo 11 launched to the moon.

Just as Florida became synonymous with the U.S. space program in the 1960s, Matthews believes Colorado has the potential to emerge now as the national birthplace of quantum technology."We are in a unique position," Matthews said of Colorado. "We have academia that is really leading in quantum. We also have more national labs in Colorado than any other state outside of the Beltway. We've got several startups. That creates a good petri dish for quantum to grow."

Boulder is home to the quantum research centers JILA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. As a growing number of researchers at those facilities studied quantum physics in 2022, state officials and innovators took steps to build Colorado into a nation-leading ecosystem for quantum computing.

This year saw the expansion of Atom Computing into Colorado and the growth of a Denver-based quantum startup, Infleqtion, which is working to commercialize quantum tech. Also this year, Colorado signed a partnership with Finland to cooperate in the advancement of quantum computing, and state leaders, including Matthews, traveled to the Scandinavian country to develop that relationship.

Progress is expected to continue in 2023 as the tempo of the quantum race quickens.

Infleqtion, formerly known as ColdQuanta, is eager to get to work. Flush with $110 million in venture capital, it is building out its product portfolio and racing to become one of the first companies to harness and sell quantum tech to commercial customers.

 "We believe that the quantum industry is at a turning point as it needs to move beyond research and focus on bringing practical, quantum-enabled solutions to the world," said Infleqtion CEO Scott Faris. "Quantum’s time is now and will require bold leadership to bring together the people, capital and ideas to drive the largest technological leap in human history."

Quantum computing promises to store more information and operate with more efficient algorithms than traditional computing, helping solve extremely complex tasks much faster than typically would be possible.

The technology is widely regarded as being in its infancy, but Infleqtion is seeking out ways to commercialize it with the development of atomic clocks, sensors, computing capability and algorithms.

Infleqtion's work is gaining national prominence. TIME magazine named ColdQuanta's Albert, a cloud-based quantum-matter machine, as one of the top inventions of 2022. The leaders of Infleqtion have also been granted a voice in the nation's capital, where they testified to Congress about the need to invest in a quantum workforce.

Multiple Infleqtion executives traveled to Washington, D.C., last month to lead presentations at the Quantum World Congress, a first-of-its-kind event that brought together researchers, developers, industry experts and elected officials to "accelerate the value of the growing quantum industry," according to event materials.The effort to grow Colorado's quantum ecosystem has the support of Gov. Jared Polis, who said this year that he wants the state to be at the forefront of the new industrial revolution that he thinks quantum will create.

"This really represents the next exponential improvement in computing power and efficiency," Polis said in September at the grand opening of Atom Computing in Boulder. "And it's really exciting that we are building that out and developing that right here in Colorado."

From Matthews' perspective, quantum technology has the potential to affect the world at a similar magnitude to the space race. If the U.S. — and Colorado, specifically — want a chance to lead in the quantum race, the time to act is now, she urged.

"When you look at what quantum will do, the way it will solve some big, hairy problems, it's very important that the United States invest in this innovation," Matthews said. "I hear a lot of people say, 'Well, quantum is not here yet.' But it never will be here if we're not investing in it now."

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