IonQ and University of Maryland plan Q-Lab for hands-on quantum computing research

UMD makes a $20 million investment in a lab that will include trapped-ion hardware and access to IonQ's scientists and engineers.

quantum computing qubit

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IonQ is honoring its research roots by establishing a new quantum computing lab at the University of Maryland, College Park. National Quantum Lab at Maryland (Q-Lab) will be the first facility in the U.S. where scientists will have hands-on access to a commercial-grade quantum computer, according to the university. The university is making a $20 million investment to open the lab.

University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines said in a press release that the university is excited to establish this strategic partnership and to "further solidify UMD and the surrounding region as the Quantum Capital of the world."

"No other university in the United States is able to provide students and researchers this level of hands-on contact with commercial-grade quantum computing technology," he said. 

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The lab is part of the university's $300 million investment in quantum science, which includes more than 200 researchers studying the subject and seven centers, including the new Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Robust Quantum Simulation. The National Science Foundation awarded $25 million to the university this month to launch the center. Researchers will develop theoretical concepts, design innovative hardware and provide education and training for new simulation devices that can predict and understand quantum phenomena. 

The lab will be in the UMD Discovery District, next to IonQ's headquarters in College Park. The university expects the Q-Lab to "democratize access to this innovative technology, generate new intellectual property and attract global scientific and engineering talent."  It will join the existing Quantum Startup Foundry and the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance as "another incentive for entrepreneurs and startups to bring their businesses to College Park" and add to the area's private sector ecosystem, according to the university. 

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Chris Monroe and Jungsang Kim founded IonQ in 2015 with $2 million in seed funding from New Enterprise Associates and a license to core technology from the University of Maryland and Duke University. Kim and Monroe wanted to take trapped ion quantum computing out of the lab and onto the market. The company plans to develop modular quantum computers small enough to be networked together by 2023.

Instead of going the IPO route as many new companies do, IonQ is merging with dMY Technology Group III, a special-purpose acquisition company. The deal includes a PIPE investment from Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Silver Lake, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, MSD Partners, L.P., Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation.

There are more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 300 academic programs at the University of Maryland, College Park. Faculty members include two Nobel laureates, four Pulitzer Prize winners and 59 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.2 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. 

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