Nation’s first quantum startup accelerator, Duality, launches at UChicago’s Polsky Center and Chicago Quantum Exchange

Duality is taking applications through its website for the first cohort. Companies are invited to apply and will be considered on a rolling basis until May 14, 2021. Actively promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, the program is seeking a range of diverse applicants, in terms of race, gender and ethnicity.

“The Chicago area has a vital role in generating new science and technology, and Duality will provide critical support to bring quantum science from breakthroughs in the laboratory to practical applications that can foster new businesses, create jobs and improve aspects of the quality of life,” said Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago. “This program leverages the unique strengths of the University of Chicago and our partners to convene industry, researchers and venture capitalists to realize the potential of quantum science while simultaneously providing mutual benefit to the research and academic mission of the University of Chicago.”

The state of Illinois has made a strong commitment to support quantum research overall, and Duality will further enhance the region’s ecosystem for technology development and commercialization.

“The sheer potential of quantum to transform the way so many sectors operate has been matched at only a few points in human history, and Illinois’ advantages in the quantum revolution have already centered our state as a leader. Illinois has the world’s foremost quantum scientists, experts, and leaders as well as a diverse and formidable network of some of world’s best educational institutions. We have two national laboratories, more than 100 tech incubators and accelerators, and world-class research universities with global leadership in business, engineering and the sciences,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “As a leader in technology and innovation, it is no surprise that the nation’s first quantum incubator-accelerator is opening here in Illinois at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center. Thanks to this partnership between the University and the Chicago Quantum Exchange, entrepreneurs in the quantum science and technology space will have access to critical resources as they work to transform the economy of tomorrow.”

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“We are building the future of technology right here in Chicago,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “This program taps the extraordinary talent in the city across fields from science and innovation to entrepreneurship, manufacturing and development, and is a testament to the strengths of this incredible city and its residents.”

The 12-month accelerator program will focus on supporting and advancing companies that are building quantum technologies, products and applications, and related enabling technologies. Starting virtually in July and continuing in person when COVID-19 restrictions lift, each cohort of companies will have the opportunity to access state-of-the-art facilities, office and lab space, and each startup will receive $50,000 in unrestricted funds.

“The region is uniquely positioned to lead in quantum engineering and other areas of deep tech, meaning the types of early-stage technologies that rely on fundamental scientific breakthroughs to move innovations into use in the world,” said Juan de Pablo, vice president for national laboratories, science strategy, innovation and global initiatives at the University of Chicago. “The combined efforts of the partners in the Duality accelerator, along with our expanding global reach, will further elevate the scientific footprint of Illinois and the larger region.”

A key feature of Duality is that it is based in Hyde Park on the city’s South Side. The University of Chicago, along with partners at UIUC and Argonne, has been actively developing a blueprint for inclusive innovation in the context of quantum engineering and other emerging technologies, whose goal is to expand economic opportunities and drive economic inclusion for South Side residents and diverse businesses. 

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Derek Douglas, vice president for civic engagement and external affairs at the University of Chicago, noted: “Our commitment to inclusive innovation means not only will investments in quantum research and innovation be creating new companies, but we will simultaneously be working in partnership to prepare South Side businesses to grow with these new companies, and residents for the jobs that such companies will generate. We want to continue working with our local communities and civic partners to bolster the access, education, and training needed to reach this goal.”


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