- Yale and the University of Connecticut will use a $1 million planning grant to propose Connecticut as a regional center for quantum.
- The grant is part of the US National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Machinery program.
- Planning projects can generate a potential $160 million award from the federal government.
PRESS RELEASE — Yale and the University of Connecticut will use a $1 million planning grant from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to formally propose Connecticut as a regional center for quantum-related research, technology, and work.
The grant, announced May 11, is part of the NSF Engines program, a national effort to turn cutting-edge research into new technologies that create jobs and drive economic growth. Congress passed the program last year in the CHIPS and Science Act. Yale and UConn will use the grant to develop plans for nurturing new quantum-related companies, identify ways quantum research can help existing companies, and train a new workforce for quantum manufacturing jobs.
The planning project could generate a potential $160 million award from the federal government — money that will be used to implement the proposed idea into a Quantum-CT Regional Innovation Machine.
“These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for new innovation hubs and the future potential of NSF Engines,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These award recipients are part of the fabric of NSF’s vision to create opportunity everywhere and enable innovation everywhere. They will build strong regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of the country.”
Yale is a national leader in quantum research, which investigates the exotic properties and dynamics of subatomic matter. Harnessing the power of quantum mechanics holds promise as a transformative field of science that could revolutionize entire sectors of the economy, from financial services to drug development and computing systems.
“Yale has an outstanding reputation in quantum science and a thriving community of startups in quantum technology,” said Michael Crair, Yale vice chancellor for research and co-principal investigator for the NSF grant. “This is going to be a multi-billion dollar industry, and we want Yale and UConn, with partners across the state, to form a national quantum corridor in Connecticut.”
“Quantum science and technology hold so many keys to the future of Connecticut and the nation,” said Pamir Alpay, UConn’s interim vice president of research, innovation and entrepreneurship. “Combining the expertise and research excellence of UConn, Yale and many partners, Quantum-CT has the potential to be transformative for our science, economy and workforce. This program expands opportunities for communities and sectors left behind by the recent economic downturn and promotes equity across the state.”
The proposed Quantum-CT Regional Innovation Machine brings together a broad coalition of public and private partners, in addition to Yale and UConn: the governor’s office of Connecticut and several state agencies; city leaders from New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury, and Stamford; Connecticut Business and Industry Association; companies, including Raytheon Technologies, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Quantum Circuits Inc. (a New Haven start-up founded by Yale physicists); the Connecticut Labor Council; and business development and leadership groups including Advance CT, CT Next, and the Connecticut Small Business Development Center.
Governor Ned Lamont said Connecticut was “ready, determined, and excited” to become a national center for quantum technology.
“Our workforce in Connecticut is some of the best educated and most talented in the country, trained with the modern skills needed to make the United States an international leader in research and development in the emerging field of quantum technology,” said Lamont.
Yale, which has made quantum research a priority over the last decade, is deeply involved in the proposal. Quantum-CT’s leadership team includes Crair; Richard Jacob, associate vice president for federal and state relations; Josh Geballe, managing director of Yale Ventures (a university initiative that supports innovation and entrepreneurship); faculty members Charles Ahn, Victor Batista, Yongshan Ding, Steven Girvin, Charalampos Papamanthou, and Robert Schoelkopf; and Jeffrey Brock, dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science.
“Yale is conducting some of the most impressive quantum-related research in the world, from major discoveries in quantum computing — which will likely revolutionize how many companies operate — to breakthroughs in chemistry, materials, sensors, and electronics,” said Brock. “We have also added faculties in this area, and have plans to build new centers for quantum research over the next few years.”
Indeed, Yale scientists have conducted groundbreaking research in the development of superconducting qubits — quantum data “bits” — with controllable properties. Yale’s “transmon” qubits are already being used by private companies and researchers around the world working on quantum computing. Yale researchers have also made great strides in addressing the challenge of error correction — one of the greatest remaining scientific hurdles in the development of quantum computing.
Yale is also involved in leading research to create new quantum materials and sensors and explores the fundamental principles of quantum through mathematics and physics. Later this year, Yale will begin the first phase of its planned Physical Science and Engineering Building (PSEB), which will bring together faculty around quantum computing, quantum engineering, and materials science. PSEB is one of the largest facilities projects in university history.
“Having Connecticut designated as a regional center for quantum technology will enable a quantum leap in Yale’s ability to transition fundamental research findings into commercial products that will drive future job creation,” said Larry Gladney, Dean of Science for the Yale School of Arts and Sciences and a physics professor. “We are leaders in quantum computing and quantum sensing, a position in which we can thoroughly collaborate with industry and government stakeholders to develop new solutions to existential problems facing humanity.”
A key element of planning grants involves translating cutting-edge research into high-tech jobs and economic growth. The Quantum-CT leadership team will develop plans for a variety of potential new jobs, including technical positions that do not require an advanced degree.
“We have a real opportunity here to strategize statewide to advance new industrial sectors that will generate new companies and jobs, benefiting the entire state,” said Jacob. “In 2019, startup Yale Quantum Circuits Inc. opened a New Haven development and test facility for quantum computing, and that is just the start of what we can do with our public and private partners.”
With planning grants now in hand, Yale, UConn, and state collaborators will concentrate on four areas of development:
- Identify industry partners with needs that can be matched by emerging quantum discoveries
- Build a discovery-to-impact model that includes seed grants and incubator space for new quantum technology start-ups
- Create a blueprint to train the state’s workforce with the skills needed to produce new quantum-related products
- Designing an “innovation engine” – the entity that will take the lead in implementing a three-pronged strategy in research, discovery-for-impact, and workforce training
“Quantum science is where we have clear research growth opportunities with great potential and a societal need to translate that potential into new goods and services, such as quantum computers and cryptography,” said Crair. “Obviously, every related industry is going to produce high-quality jobs for New Haven and Connecticut. It fits naturally.