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Prairie State to Quantum State: Illinois Policymakers Make a Case For Investing in Quantum

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Insider Brief

  • The Chicago Sun-Times published a detailed report about the powerful quantum backers in Illinois.
  • Governor J.B. Pritzker and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are positioning Chicago as a hub of quantum science, quantum discovery — and quantum entrepreneurship.
  • Both policymakers have pushed for programs to make the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago major centers for quantum technology.

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And we may soon be able to add Hub of Quantum Science, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker told the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes that his efforts will position Illinois as a global hub for quantum development, possibly moving it from the Prairie State to “the Silicon Valley of quantum development.” The governor is just one of the policymakers in the state who believes in quantum science and technology.

And although Pritzker has suffered his share of eye rolls at his conversations about quantum from some, Pritzker told the paper he remains steadfast in his belief in its potential.

The governor said that quantum computing holds promise for revolutionizing various industries. University of Chicago researchers, for example, are already engaged in important experiments, such as creating a highly sensitive quantum sensor capable of detecting molecular-level biological and chemical changes, enabling instant disease detection. The governor also suggests that they potential for secure data transfers and unhackable computers would have far-reaching implications for fields ranging from healthcare to national security.

Governor Pritzker and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel might not be experts in the intricate science behind quantum computing, but their roles involve garnering attention and funding for this emerging field.

Governor Pritzker told the Chicago Sun-Times that the potential of quantum technology offers significant financial implications of quantum technology. He acknowledges that even though he might not personally witness the results of his efforts during his tenure, the long-term investments he is making could position Illinois as a leader in the quantum industry. He understands the competition for quantum talent and aims to attract experts to the state.

Emanuel, now the U.S. ambassador to Japan, helped initiate Chicago’s quantum development journey in 2018 by backing the Chicago Quantum Exchange in collaboration with universities and national laboratories, according to the newspaper. Quantum research in Illinois has received substantial support, including a $150 million deal secured by Emanuel to bolster quantum research and workforce development, partnering with institutions like IBM and Google.

Pritzker said his ambition is to place Illinois at the forefront of quantum development, much like pioneers who invested in the early stages of the internet. Despite the complexity of the field and its uncertain trajectory, both Pritzker and Emanuel remain steadfast in their commitment to fostering quantum innovation, believing it holds the potential to transform industries and drive economic growth.

“When you move into government, you start to see … what the advantages are for an economy more broadly, not just as a business investment, of infusing quantum into various aspects of life and then think about the national security implications,” Pritzker told the newspaper.

Governor Pritzker’s passion for quantum computing, along with the concerted efforts of researchers and partners in Illinois, is steadily shaping the state into a leading force in the rapidly evolving world of quantum technology. As Pritzker himself envisions, Illinois could indeed become a pivotal player in the quantum landscape, paving the way for groundbreaking advancements in science, technology, and beyond.

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Matt Swayne

With a several-decades long background in journalism and communications, Matt Swayne has worked as a science communicator for an R1 university for more than 12 years, specializing in translating high tech and deep tech for the general audience. He has served as a writer, editor and analyst at The Quantum Insider since its inception. In addition to his service as a science communicator, Matt also develops courses to improve the media and communications skills of scientists and has taught courses. [email protected]

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