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Five reasons the U.S. could lose its quantum leadership

By Sandra Helsel posted 26 Apr 2022

(FCW.com) Chester Kennedy, president of research and security solutions at ColdQuanta, has authored a must-read article detailing the five reasons that the United States could lost its lead in quantum leadership in FCW, ‘The Business of Federal Technology”.  IQT-News lists the five points and summarizes Kennedy’s key messages for each.

Kennedy introduces his message: U.S. government is at a technological inflection point and unless we act quickly to bolster domestic micro-electronics production, invest in research and upskill our workforce, we will be left in the dust as the rest of the world advances in quantum.

1. Lack of Public-Private Partnerships. We need a public-private partnership on a similar scale as Sematech focused on advancing the ability to manufacture, reduce cost and miniaturize the components of quantum enabled systems. Chips are the underlying foundation of every trillion-dollar company today; similarly, the country that leads in quantum innovation will lead the global economy of tomorrow.

2. Failure to inspire students: A limiting factor for advancing quantum technology is talent. The U.S. has failed to inspire enough students to pursue advanced degrees in core quantum physics disciplines. One idea to consider would be a combined loan repayment and loan forgiveness program to immediately increase the talent pipeline.

3. Limited accessibility to quantum: We must decrease  barriers to access. To facilitate this, imagine a large bank of quantum emulators that would create an education network for a high fidelity emulation, available for experimentation at all U.S. universities. We can begin by offering it to those with recognized physics departments, and expand as capacity can be added to include all U.S.-based universities and select High Schools.

4. Education and financial support: By expanding the number of U.S. universities with strong quantum physics departments, we can fuel the talent pipeline. Federal funding would be required to  support the stand-up of these programs. Funding for the initial start-up (inclusive of hiring of faculty and lab equipment) in partnership with the universities, and support for recurring funding would be required until the program can reach a self-sustaining point.

5. Upskilling the workforce: Finally, we can’t forget about the software and algorithms that enable us to realize the true quantum advantage. While we have trained millions of smart people to program traditional computers, we must develop new skills to take advantage of the unique aspects of the non-binary quantum computer.

Sandra K. Helsel, Ph.D. has been researching and reporting on frontier technologies since 1990.  She has her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.

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