Nation’s first quantum accelerator, Duality, announces first corporate supporters

Amazon among first companies to fuel quantum innovation in Chicago, region

Duality, the nation’s first accelerator focused exclusively on supporting quantum science and technology companies, has announced that Amazon Web Services is among its first corporate supporters, along with Caruso Ventures, Lathrop GPM LLP, McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff, Silicon Valley Bank, and Toptica Photonics to support its inaugural cohort of six startups, and help fuel quantum innovation in Chicago and the region.

Corporate supporters will provide a combination of financial support, mentorship, and other professional services and resources for Duality and its startups. The move comes at a time when nations around the world are racing to unlock the potential of quantum information science, and when researchers and corporations are looking for ways to collaborate more closely and narrow the gap between the laboratory and the marketplace.

“The rapidly evolving field of quantum information science can benefit enormously from strategic partnerships which bring together complementary expertise,” said Paul Alivisatos, president of the University of Chicago and the John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering. “Today’s announcement enhances the support for Duality companies and further strengthens Chicago—and the state of Illinois—as a global center for quantum innovation.”

“Quantum science and technology is a field that will transform multiple industries and launch entirely new ones,” said Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “I’m proud that one of the ways we’re demonstrating our leadership as the nation’s quantum hub is with Duality—the first accelerator in the U.S. dedicated to supporting innovative quantum startups. With these six new collaborations, we’re bringing together some of Illinois’ best minds and resources to help solve the most challenging problems in modern history.”

Duality, the first accelerator program in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to supporting the launch and growth of quantum companies, was launched in April 2021 by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago and the Chicago Quantum Exchange, along with founding partners, the University of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignArgonne National Laboratory, and P33. Its first cohort of startups were selected from a competitive pool of applicants from all over the globe and vetted by an internal review process. Those startups include Axion Technologies, Great Lakes Crystal Technologies, qBraid, QuantCAD, Quantopticon, and

As the global leader in cloud computing, Amazon Web Services will provide financial support for Duality and equip the Cohort 1 startups with tools and resources to help accelerate their innovation. Amazon Web Services has more than 200 fully featured services, including Amazon Braket, a quantum computing service that provides researchers and developers with access to multiple quantum processors integrated in the Amazon Web Services Cloud, the preferred cloud provider for Duality. Each startup will be eligible to participate in AWS Activate, a program designed to help startups grow their businesses with free tools and resources, including credits to help cover costs of using the company’s services, including Amazon Braket. Additionally, Amazon Web Services will provide each Duality startup with training and enablement on Amazon Web Services services and access to its top mentors with entrepreneurial experience.

“By bringing together academic research and business expertise, Duality offers quantum startups a great path for growth,” said Simone Severini, director of quantum computing at Amazon Web Services. “We love startups at AWS, and the startups in Duality’s Cohort 1 show promise across a broad sector of the quantum landscape. We’re excited to be working closely with them as they develop their businesses and to help drive innovation for the quantum industry as a whole.”

Another supporter of Duality is Caruso Ventures, which was launched by Dan Caruso, a serial entrepreneur who is also an investor in ColdQuanta, a Chicago Quantum Exchange corporate partner and a leader in Cold Atom Quantum Technology, and Maybell Quantum Industries. Headquartered in Boulder, CO, Caruso Ventures supports next-generation entrepreneurial leaders through private funding, direct investments, and philanthropy.

“We are excited to partner with Duality as it looks to accelerate the pace of innovation in quantum,” said Caruso, who is also managing director of Caruso Ventures. “At Caruso Ventures, we are focused on seismic trends and believe quantum is one of these life-changing spaces that is set to disrupt all industries.”

In addition to these industry-leading partnerships, four other companies have signed on as official in-kind sponsors for Duality’s Cohort 1. Legal service providers Lathrop GPM LLP and McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff will offer education and legal services related to intellectual property and legal contracts among other relevant matters. Silicon Valley Bank, a finance partner for the technology and innovation ecosystem will offer banking and advisory services. Finally, Toptica Photonics, a Chicago Quantum Exchange corporate partner developing and manufacturing high-end laser systems for scientific and industrial applications, including fundamental and applied quantum technologies, will offer equipment to each relevant team in addition to mentoring and education.

“The financial sponsorship, market access, and business expertise provided by our corporate partners ensures that Duality has an accelerated impact on the success of the quantum startups and the broader ecosystem,” said Chuck Vallurupalli, senior director of Duality. “We are looking forward to working with a diverse group of corporate partners and further building upon these early success stories.”

Together with its partners, each startup in Cohort 1 will receive access to world-class business and entrepreneurship training as well as dedicated mentorship from a growing roster of top quantum experts. Startups will have the opportunity to gain access to many of the region’s state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for advanced computing, nanofabrication, atomic scale measurement, quantum testbeds, and other premier resources at the University of Chicago, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Argonne National Laboratory.

"Duality provides a wealth of resources and connections for our startup as we seek to develop quantum technology for the next generation of computing and cyber security," said Carol Scarlett, founder of Axion Technologies. Scarlett is also a fellow in Argonne National Laboratory’s Chain Reaction Innovations program which embeds entrepreneurs in the Lab. "These opportunities are invaluable to the development of the quantum ecosystem needed to support and promote companies advancing new technologies."

Duality startups recently had the opportunity to present at the Chicago Venture Summit and will be featured at the upcoming Chicago Quantum Summit on Nov. 4.

—This story was first published on the Duality website.