Survey by the consortium managed by SRI International shows one third of respondents taking drastic measures, such as layoffs, within three months if lockdown continues.
MENLO PARK, CA. APRIL 28, 2020 – The Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) released results of a survey demonstrating the impact COVID-19 is having on U.S. companies that are part of the quantum information science and technology (QIST) innovation ecosystem. To help ensure the fledgling U.S. quantum industry is able to survive and recover quickly, QED-C surveyed its corporate members about the impact COVID-19 is having on their ability to weather the crisis and asked how the government can assist. A summary of the survey results can be found here.
The QED-C is an industry-driven consortium managed by SRI International with the mission to enable and grow a robust U.S. quantum information science and technology industry and supply chain.
“QIST is an industry of the future that has potential to create new jobs, new products, and new businesses, similar to advances enabled by the semiconductor industry,” said Joseph Broz, Ph.D., Executive Director of the QED-C and Vice President at SRI International. “The QIST industry is in early stages and requires public and private investors to fulfill its potential to benefit the economy and society.”
“The current and post-COVID-19 environment may force small technology companies to be more conservative about hiring quantum scientists and engineers in response to slowdowns in private sector investments,” notes Christopher Savoie, QED-C board member and CEO of Zapata Computing, a VC-backed quantum software firm. “This creates an opportunity for adversaries to scoop up this extremely scarce and highly desirable talent, which is critical to the strategic capabilities and future growth of the U.S. quantum industry.”
The survey compiles 46 responses from diverse types of businesses including component and system manufacturers, software developers and R&D firms. Approximately 30% of respondents will face taking drastic measures, such as laying-off workers, within 3 months if the current pandemic lockdowns persist. More than half of respondents will need to take such measures within 12 months if the situation does not improve. Many of these highly impacted companies are manufacturers that are core constituents of the quantum technology supply chain.
“Our company roadmaps are being reworked from thriving to surviving as investor and customer strategies change from risk-seeking to risk-averse. The shift could spell extinction for some young quantum companies,” says Dana Anderson, QED-C board member and ColdQuanta co-founder and Chief Technology Officer.
QED-C members encourage near-term investments in infrastructure and research to ensure the United States is well positioned to be a leader in QIST. Propositions from the survey include:
• Strategically invest in America’s industries of the future as part of our economic recovery initiative, including QIST-targeted investments as part of any infrastructure bill.
• Provide robust post-COVID R&D funding for the QIST industry, as well as academia and national labs.
• Support a program that expands user access to diverse U.S. quantum computing resources.
• Assist venture capital/investor-funded QIST companies that are pre-revenue.
• Create a public-private partnership to support companies with bridge loans and to acquire IP from companies that fail via a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC).
QED-C is a consortium managed by SRI International and established in response to the National Quantum Initiative Act. Membership includes more than 100 U.S. companies from across the supply chain and more than 30 academic institutions and other stakeholders. The consortium seeks to enable and grow the U.S. quantum industry and associated supply chain. For more about QED-C, go to https://quantumconsortium.org/.