Chicago Business Media Endorse Quantum Efforts, Push For Tech Leadership

JUN 08, 2024

Insider Brief

  • Crain’s Business Chicago editors are urging policymakers and business leaders to back efforts to make the city a central hub for quantum technology.
  • They point out growing interest from major quantum firms, such as IBM and PsiQuantum, as evidence of its quantum potential.
  • The editors are making a push for increased city government activity to bolster Chicago’s quantum aspirations.

There’s a lot of hype about quantum, but, according to the editorial board of Crain’s Chicago Business, that doesn’t mean that underneath the noise and the hype and the quantum buzzword bingo, the technology won’t be a genuine game-changer.

In a recent Crain’s Business Chicago op-ed, the editors report that Chicago is positioned to become a central hub for quantum technology — and an inside lane to its potential power. The editorial points out the city’s potential and urges local leaders to seize this opportunity.

Quantum computing, while less glamorous than artificial intelligence, holds the promise to revolutionize problem-solving and even alter our understanding of reality. According to Crain’s, Chicago’s universities, particularly the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois, have already made significant strides in this domain with substantial government backing. However, the editors highlight an even more exciting development: the growing interest of private industry.

“Corporate investment is the kind of action that can kick Chicago’s ascendancy as a quantum computing capital into overdrive — and the benefits to the Chicago tech community and the entire economy could be profound.” the editors write.

This influx of corporate interest, as revealed by discussions with quantum leaders IBM and PsiQuantum, could profoundly impact the local tech ecosystem and the broader economy. While both companies have yet to reveal detailed plans, their interest and, specifically, IBM’s collaboration with local universities signifies a major step toward establishing a robust quantum infrastructure in the city.

IBM’s potential expansion, as reported by Crain’s John Pletz, would bolster Governor J.B. Pritzker’s vision of making Illinois a quantum technology hub. Pritzker’s ambitious plan includes a $20 billion investment to develop a 150-acre campus dedicated to quantum computing. The proposed sites, the former U.S. Steel plant on the Far South Side and the former Texaco refinery in Lockport, are under consideration by PsiQuantum, a Silicon Valley startup also eyeing Chicago.

“Landing IBM would give an added shot of credibility to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s efforts to make Illinois a hub for quantum technology,” the business news journal noted. Quantum technology, leveraging quantum mechanics, promises exponential improvements in computing power, speed, and security. This leap in capability could revolutionize fields ranging from medical research to climate modeling, making Chicago a beacon of technological innovation.

The editorial also emphasizes the economic benefits of this quantum push. High-paying jobs for researchers and semi-skilled labor are anticipated, offering a substantial economic boost. Crain’s highlights the potential for the South Works site to rejuvenate a long-dormant area of the city, injecting much-needed economic vitality. They are pushing for city government intervention.

“That’s why City Hall should do what it can to smooth the way for this investment by helping to make the South Works site the more attractive choice,” the editors urge. “The tech companies circling the area and the real estate developers working with them will need support to remediate the site and build the infrastructure necessary to make it viable. And though an overreliance on tax-increment financing has rightly come in for criticism in Chicago over the years, revivifying the South Works site and its immediate environs is pretty much the textbook definition of what TIFs were created for.”

Crain’s Business Chicago’s endorsement underscores the critical moment Chicago faces. The city has the opportunity to become a leading quantum computing hub, leveraging its academic strengths and attracting significant corporate investment. This combination could establish Chicago as a pivotal player in the next wave of technological advancement.

“Sources familiar with the project are hoping a decision will come by the end of this month,” the editors write, reflecting the urgency and high stakes involved. The potential collaboration between IBM and PsiQuantum, along with other quantum companies exploring the area, positions Chicago at a significant crossroads.

Matt Swayne

With A Several-Decades Long Background In Journalism And Communications, Matt Swayne Has Worked As A Science Communicator For An R1 University For More Than 12 Years, Specializing In Translating High Tech And Deep Tech For The General Audience. He Has Served As A Writer, Editor And Analyst At The Quantum Insider Since Its Inception. In Addition To His Service As A Science Communicator, Matt Also Develops Courses To Improve The Media And Communications Skills Of Scientists And Has Taught Courses. Matt@Thequantuminsider.Com