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Virtual Accelerator to showcase Innovare Advancement Center in Rome

By Eric Reinhardt


Event will include a $1 million quantum-focused pitch contest for university researchers 

A rendering of the Innovare Advancement Center, which is located near the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate in Rome. Innovare will host a virtual $1 million International Quantum U Tech Accelerator Sept. 1-3. (RENDERING CREDIT: GRIFFISS INSTITUTE)

ROME — Innovare Advancement Center is getting ready to host the upcoming $1 million International Quantum U Tech Accelerator in a virtual event in early September.

Innovare (pronounced Inn-oh-VAR-ay) Advancement Center is the new “open innovation” campus located at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, the Griffiss Institute announced in mid-July.

The accelerator is scheduled from Sept. 1-3 as a virtual event, Jennifer Sumner, public relations and marketing manager at the Griffiss Institute, tells CNYBJ. Organizers originally planned to include an in-person component as well, but that has been shelved as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The event will include a $1 million quantum-focused pitch competition for university researchers; fast-pitch sessions for members of industry, government, and academia; as well as keynotes and remarks by world leaders in quantum information science (QIS). 

A selection committee spent a few weeks in August reviewing more than 200 submissions and will invite 36 teams to pitch during the three-day event, Sumner says. 

Innovare is a partnership of the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI or Rome Lab), Griffiss Institute in Rome, Oneida County, and SUNY.

The announcement expands upon that partnership with the support of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for a global quantum pitch event. It will include the launch of the Innovare Advancement Center, which is located “just over the fence” from the Rome Lab.

National Building & Restoration Corporation of Utica served as the contractor on the Innovare project, while the C&S Companies of Syracuse designed the center, according to Sumner. 

Innovare contends it enables a “robust high-tech entrepreneurial, [research & development], and educational ecosystem” for the region and the nation by “driving advancements in key strategic areas,” including artificial intelligence/machine learning; cybersecurity; and quantum, with Innovare-connected research “taking place at partnering organizations all over the world.”

“AFRL is committed to transformational areas of [science and technology] like quantum, and we are excited to bring together the world’s leading researchers and trailblazers across government, industry, and academia,” Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command in Dayton, Ohio, said. “This million-dollar international quantum accelerator and the Innovare open campus provide new opportunities to accelerate quantum basic research and facilitate innovation.”

The Innovare launch is a “significant step forward” in implementing the National Quantum Initiative Act, which aims to foster the development of a quantum technology ecosystem among government, industry, and academia. 

Innovare says it and its strategic partners seek to engage partners in various technology areas through entrepreneurial ventures and tech startups, in addition to building a “robust talent pipeline at a time when scientific advancement across boundaries is needed now more than ever to remain economically and strategically competitive in this fast-changing world.”

“Oneida County continues to emerge as a global epicenter for high-tech innovation and advancement,” Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. contended. “As the Innovare Advancement Center begins to take shape at our Griffiss International Airport in Rome, the partnership we have forged with Rome Lab, the Griffiss Institute, and SUNY will lead this region to new heights. This Quantum U Tech Accelerator event will be a great opportunity to showcase the amazing things that are on the horizon.”

About the accelerator

The Accelerator event will connect QIS researchers to advance technologies and applications in this critical area. A total of 36 teams across four quantum tracks related to timing, sensing, information processing/computing, and communications/networking are expected to compete before a panel of cross-agency quantum leaders. 

The top-performing university teams will be eligible for more than $1 million in basic research funding provided by the AFRL/RI, AFOSR, and ONR.

This competition builds upon the success of the QIS 1st International Workshop, hosted by AFRL/RI and held at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. The event enabled nearly 200 researchers and leaders from 13 countries to share their discoveries and advancements in this “rapidly expanding” field, facilitating “invaluable opportunities” to connect with the agencies spearheading or taking part in the experience.

“Significantly, the Accelerator will act as a launching pad for the discovery and promotion of international university collaborations and research in the pursuit of novel quantum solutions,” Col. Timothy Lawrence, director of the Information Directorate and Commander, Detachment 4, Air Force Research Laboratory, said. 

William Wolf, president of Griffiss Institute, added, “This $1 [million] International Quantum U Tech Accelerator is an exciting way to share with the world the new Innovare Advancement Center, which will continue to push talent and technologies ‘into the new’ for years to come.”

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