Air Force, Navy Research Labs partner to advance Quantum breakthroughs with ‘$1M International Quantum U Tech Accelerator’ Competition

  • Published
  • By Deliarae Jesaitis
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs

ROME, N.Y. – To accelerate the development of basic research breakthroughs in quantum enabling technologies, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate, in partnership with the AFRL’s Office of Scientific Research and the Office of Naval Research will host a competition that awards one-year seed grants to university teams around the world from a pool of over one million dollars in funding.

This competition, coined the ‘$1M International Quantum U Tech Accelerator,’ will offer in-person and virtual engagement opportunities with live pitch competition awards for 18 teams. The accelerator event will connect leading-edge quantum information science researchers to advance technologies and applications in this critical area. Thirty-six teams across four quantum tracks related to timing, sensing, information processing/computing, and communications/networking will compete before an elite panel of cross-agency quantum leaders. The top performing university teams will be eligible for basic research funding provided by the Information Directorate, AFOSR, and ONR.

In a June 13 press release, the Innovare Advancement Center announced the new open innovation campus located at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, New York, will host the “$1M International Quantum U Tech Accelerator.” The global engagement will take place Sept. 1-3, 2020, with in-person and virtual events, including a quantum-focused pitch competition for university researchers; fast-pitch sessions for members of industry, government, and academia; keynotes and remarks by world leaders in quantum information science; and opportunities for tours to learn more about Innovare (pronounced “Inn-oh-VAR-ay”) and its exciting mission and capabilities.

“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,” said Brig. Gen. Heather L. Pringle, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory. “This million-dollar international quantum accelerator and the Innovare open campus provide new opportunities to accelerate quantum basic research and facilitate innovation.”

“AFOSR has a long history of collaborating with academia and industry on breakthrough science critical to the future of the Air Force and Space Force capabilities,” said Dr. Shery Welsh, Director, Air Force Office of Scientific Research. “AFOSR is excited to support the ‘International Quantum U Tech Accelerator,’ and is looking forward to funding those gold nugget discoveries and creative solutions that go beyond the classical Quantum Information Science systems in areas such as networks, communications, information processing simulation, and more. This ‘Accelerator’ provides an entry point for those talented, entrepreneurial, and energetic researchers in academia and industry to innovate with us.”

The global competition in parallel with the grand opening of Innovare Advancement Center 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.

“With quantum science, we are on the cusp of a technology revolution, and the nation that can best apply quantum capabilities to communications, computing, sensing, and timing will have the upper hand. It’s essential that nation be the United States,” said Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, Chief of Naval Research. “The partners in this Tech Accelerator effort are the right organizations and people to accelerate this research, and we look forward to the results.”

This competition builds upon the success of the QIS 1st International Workshop, hosted last summer by AFRL’s Information Directorate and held at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, which 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.

Innovare is a partnership of the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, Griffiss Institute, Oneida County, State University of New York, and New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation, and today’s announcement expands upon that partnership with the support of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Office of Naval Research for a global quantum pitch event including top-tier speakers and leaders, interactive and virtual networking opportunities, as well as the global launch for Innovare Advancement Center itself, “just over the fence” from the AFRL Information Directorate in Rome, New York, which is regionally known as the “Rome Lab.”

To register and learn more details about the three-day engagement, please visit:

A link to the white paper instructions for those interested in taking part in the Accelerator can be found here:

More information about Innovare Advancement Center and additional updates related to the $1M International Quantum U Tech Accelerator can be found here: