Capitol Corner — October 2019

Capitol Corner - October 2019

Published monthly as part of the FLC’s DC Perspective content, Capitol Corner focuses on one notable news item pertaining to the T2 community. The focus stems from agency publications, news sites, and DC-central organizations, with original sources, contacts, and links provided. For more information and Corner-related inquiries, please contact dcnews@federallabs.org.

Earlier this month, we reported that Senate appropriators suggested that $40 million in funds for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) be allocated toward quantum information science (QIS) activities. A large portion of this is to help develop NIST’s Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C), a recently formed organization that the Senate Committee found commendable.

What is the QED-C? We’ve reported extensively on the National Quantum Initiative (NQI) that President Trump signed into law in December. It seems to be in line with the NQI’s authorization of “specific National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), and NIST programs for quantum R&D,” and links nicely with the Joint Quantum Institute. Whereas that Institute links together QIS-minded academic research centers, the QED-C offers an avenue for the private sector to get involved with government R&D in this leading-edge technology.

In September 2018, NIST announced that it entered into a cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with SRI International to stand up and expand the QED-C. According to NIST Director Walter G. Copan, QED-C is intended to “effectively align resources and quantum research and development efforts between federal, academic and industry partners to ensure America’s position at the forefront of scientific discovery and development.” This CRADA ensures participation and funding from both the government and the private sector in order to stand up a QIS-ready workforce, coordinate effectively between the public and private sectors, accelerate development efforts through use cases, and more efficiently and quickly share intellectual property, technology forecasts, and supply chains.

Shortly after this announcement, SRI held a meeting in conjunction with NIST’s Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT). SRI vice president Joe Broz outlined the staged R&D approach to QED-C activities. The Consortium’s “development continuum” begins with basic R&D and extends to rapid prototype and subsystem development to develop clear, uniform standards for QIS technologies. These standards also help develop commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) versions of quantum technology, which lower barriers to entry and increase widespread adoption.

According to SRI’s value proposition, the QED-C will update the QIS supply chain for increased research and industrial productivity. This is due to Consortium members being from all sectors—academia, standards development organizations (SDOs), professional societies, the investment community, and select international partnerships. Confirmed corporate partners include AT&T, Boeing, Google, IBM, and Intel, among others. All intellectual property developed within the Consortium will be fully owned by those who develop it as well.

As the rollout of QED-C initiatives is still under wraps, the status of public-private R&D is unknown. The Consortium’s Governing Board has a confirmed structure—representatives from small to large businesses, two federal partners, and potential for nonvoting regional economists—but the nominated individuals are unnamed at this time. According to SRI’s proposed roadmap, workforce requirements and R&D program feedback were slated for delivery by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2019. QIS standards and metrics, as well as scientific and market forecasts, are expected to be finalized by the end of FY 2020. More on the QED-C’s advancement as it develops, but it seems to be another step toward continued American technological leadership.

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