U.S. Senator Michael Bennet Visits JILA Amidst Announcement of New Colorado Quantum Funding

Submitted by kennac on Mon, 10/23/2023 - 12:00 pm

On October 20th, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet visited JILA, a joint institute between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder. During his visit, Bennet engaged with several of the institute's scientists and students, discussing their groundbreaking research and its implications. JILA Fellows Konrad Lehnert, Cindy Regal, Jun Ye, and Ana Maria Rey all spoke about their research during Bennett’s walking tour of JILA. Bennet visited Ye’s laboratory, discussing with several of his students the importance of atomic clocks and their impacts on technology such as GPS. 

 Bennet's engagement with JILA reinforces the significance of Colorado as a hub for scientific innovation and quantum research, and it sheds light on the potential collaborations that could emerge between political leadership and the scientific community.

Senator Bennett’s Recent Visit Echoes a Wider Story 

On the same day that Senator Bennet visited, Colorado Governor Jared Polis made an important announcement about the Colorado quantum ecosystem. The recent announcement from Governor Polis and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) further emphasizes Colorado's determination to be at the forefront of technology and innovation as they unveiled the quantum Technology and Innovation Hub (Tech Hub) designation under the U.S. CHIPs and Science Act, for Colorado. 

This designation is a strategic move aimed at positioning Colorado for a significant funding opportunity, as the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is set to allocate $500 million in 2023 to aid the selected Tech Hubs. 

A recent news article from CPR states, “The amount of the initial grant has not yet been announced, but it is just the first phase of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration Regional Tech Hub designation process…Those grants are expected to be awarded in 2024.” 

CU Boulder President Todd Saliman recently acknowledged this significant news in a newsletter. “CU’s federal partnerships – with the National Institute of Standards and Technology through JILA, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy – are core to our strength in this space, which is by no means theoretical: CU Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science recently launched the Quantum Engineering Initiative to accelerate the translation and commercialization of quantum into real-world applications.”

This big announcement goes beyond the university and federal systems and will impact the wider Colorado community. As Governor Polis stated in the recent announcement, “Colorado is home to a thriving ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurial culture. From our world-class institutions of higher education to our highly talented and educated workforce, we continue to position ourselves as a leader in the industries of the future.” OEDIT and Governor Polis also designated the Elevate Quantum Consortium in Colorado a Regional Technology Hub for Quantum Information Technology (QIT).

Senator Bennet also celebrated this significant news on the day of his visit. “Congratulations to all of you,” Bennet stated to the JILA and CU Boulder tour group. 

Written by Kenna Hughes-Castleberry, JILA Science Communicator 

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