SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday said it will provide $625 million over the next five years for five newly formed quantum information research hubs as it tries to keep ahead of competing nations like China on the emerging technology.
The funding is part of $1.2 billion earmarked in the National Quantum Initiative Act in 2018.
Researchers believe quantum computers could operate millions of times faster than today’s advanced supercomputers, making possible potential tasks ranging from mapping complex molecular structures and chemical reactions to boosting the power of artificial intelligence.
“It’s absolutely imperative the United States continues to lead the world in AI and quantum. We know our adversaries around the world are pursuing their own advances,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said during a White House press briefing announcing the quantum information research funding and another $100 million plus investment into the National Science Foundation’s AI Research Institutes.
The five research hubs are each led by the Energy Department’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermi, Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge national laboratories. The hubs are comprised of top research universities, other national labs and big tech companies in the quantum computing space such as International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N), Intel Corp (INTC.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), and quantum computer startups Rigetti & Co and ColdQuanta Inc. An Italian research lab and a Canadian university are also taking part.
Missing from the list are Google parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), considered one of the top firms in quantum computing, and Honeywell International Inc (HON.N), which unveiled its quantum computing business in the past year. The Energy Department spokesperson declined to comment on whether they had been part of a proposal that didn’t receive funding.
Paul Dabbar, under secretary for science at the Energy Department, said the private sector contributed another $340 million worth of labor, equipment, lab space and other assets to the project.