Several different locations in the United States are vying to be the next “Silicon Valley” where there is a concentration of companies and academic institutions that have a critical mass of expertise in a particular technology. Some of the locations that would like to achieve this in quantum tech include the Virginia/Maryland/DC area, Chicago, Colorado, New York state and others. And now the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) is making a play to include the Pacific Northwest in the list.

The WTIA commissioned a study to look at the competitive situation along with the areas strengths and weaknesses for attracting more quantum activity in the region. The study points several of the area’s strengths including a substantial software and manufacturing technology presence in the Pacific Northwest including companies specializing in quantum optics and devices, a substantial base of local investors, and a good talent pool coming from the University of Washington and other schools. In addition, two big players in quantum, Microsoft and Amazon, have corporate headquarters in the Seattle area, although some of Microsoft’s research is performed in Santa Barbara near the University of California Santa Barbara and the center of Amazon’s quantum research is performed in Pasadena near Caltech. The latest company to announce they are establishing facilities in the area is IonQ which announced last week they will be opening a 65,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Bothell, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Several organizations in the area have formed a Northwest Quantum Nexus group and recently held a Northwest Quantum Nexus Summit and Hackathon.

The report that WTIA issued made an interesting observation that Washington state is producing more quantum professionals at local universities than can be employed locally. To grow the industry are suggesting a need to focus on sectors where Washington state has strengths including health tech, agriculture tech, and cybersecurity. They would like to increase the level of cooperation with other clusters and consortiums, as well as implement programs to attract investment and retain talent.

Additional information from the WTIA’s study can be found in a press release located here and a 98-page report available here.

January 25, 2023