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Rome Lab selected for quantum economic development consortium

By Eric Reinhardt


ROME — The Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome (Rome Lab) will be the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) leading representative on the quantum economic development consortium (QED-C).

Rome Lab serves as the lead Air Force Research Laboratory for quantum information technology, cybersecurity, and information sciences.

The National Institute of Standards (NIST) leads the QED-C, which was created by the 2018 National Quantum Initiative Act, the office of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) announced on Nov. 8.

It also includes the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) as other federal-government representatives.

In total, the QED-C has just under 100 member organizations, spanning from large corporate entities to schools and academic institutions to startup companies. The QED-C’s goal is to combine public and private expertise to advance the quantum computing industry in the U.S., and to identify research priorities and the best means of boosting the quantum workforce. 

Schumer said that with Rome Lab’s research capabilities and expertise on quantum computing, it will play a “critical role” with the QED-C in “developing future innovation in quantum computing.”

“The race to innovation in quantum computing is proving to be the great scientific race of the 21st century, and Rome Lab is leading the pack. The impacts of falling behind international competitors like China and Russia when it comes to this emerging technology would be wide-ranging and severe — from our economic stability to our national security,” Schumer said in a statement. “Fortunately, through its addition to the quantum economic development consortium, Rome Lab will be on the scene to help prevent that from happening.” 

Schumer explained that Rome Lab was selected to serve as the DOD’s lead representative on the QED-C because of how advanced its quantum research capabilities are in comparison to other DOD facilities. 

Rome Lab has developed these capabilities, “thanks to yearly budgetary increases Schumer has fought to secure for the facility, specifically for its quantum computing research,” his office contended.

In the defense budgets for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, $243 million and $245 million, respectively, was allocated for Rome Lab’s operations and personnel. That funding included more than $13 million for Rome Lab to establish components of its Quantum Computing Center of Excellence. The Lab is using the funding to create an “Open Innovation Campus” where researchers from the Air Force, DOD, government, industry, small-business community, and academia can collaborate to solve different computing problems using quantum-computing technology.

This past year, Rome Lab announced a partnership with Oneida County to locate the “Open Innovation Campus” at Griffiss International Airport.