University of Chicago launching nation's first quantum startup accelerator. Will this foster the Silicon Valley of next-gen technology?

Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

“One of the things that’s baked into quantum technology is security,” Awschalom said. “You will know for sure if someone has eavesdropped.”

Brian DeMarco, a physics professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said the Chicago quantum accelerator is early to the game, but not too soon in a competitive global market, where other nations have already invested billions in developing the technology.

“There has been an explosion in the last few years of interest in quantum technologies,” said DeMarco, head of Quantum Leap Challenge Institute funded by the National Science Foundation. “And the U.S. was a little bit behind.”

China alone has invested about $11 billion in quantum technology, DeMarco said. President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan calls for $35 billion devoted to “technology breakthroughs,” including quantum computing.

Duality is taking applications for its first round of awards at its website,, through May 14. The program is seeking a diverse pool of applicants based on race, gender and ethnicity.

If Duality is successful, it could be a boon for Hyde Park and the South Side, attracting startups, manufacturers and tech talent, and bringing new jobs to the area.


“There will be an exponential growth in jobs in this arena,” Schrankler said. “All of a sudden, on the South Side, you’re going to see all these startup companies coming to Chicago to be close to that epicenter.”

It may be 10 years or more before some of the quantum technologies gain widespread traction, Awschalom said, but Chicago is well-positioned to be the nexus of development. It may also prove to be a great career choice for the next generation. He said there will be a need for a million quantum engineers in the U.S. in the next decade.

As to what they may be building in the future, the sky is the limit.

“You can teleport with quantum technologies, but right now just one particle at a time,” Awschalom said.

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