The University of Chicago Wants to Turn Chicago Into the Silicon Valley of the Midwest

By Elijah Labby Thursday, April 8, 2021

The University of Chicago, in partnership with the Chicago Quantum Exchange, is launching a new startup accelerator dubbed Duality that could have the power to make Chicago a place where startup businesses make the city a new hub of industry.

Quantum computer concept.

Some Background on Startup Companies

The last year, to the surprise of nearly everyone alive in March of 2020, saw enormous growth among some sectors of the startup economy. The businesses of science and engineering, energy, and manufacturing grew 329.7%, 187%, and 113%, respectively.

That didn’t seem possible a little over a year ago when the coronavirus pandemic was sweeping the world and governments everywhere shut down public events and interactions. Those shutdowns dealt substantial hits to economies worldwide and threw the prospect of a quick return to normalcy among businesses.

But now, projects like the University of Chicago’s are starting to change things and could be a strong signal of an economy in the midst of a rebound.

What Startup Businesses Stand to Receive

According to the Chicago Tribune, Duality is offering startup business funding in the total amount of $20 million. This funding will help startup companies to develop answers to some of the world’s biggest technological challenges, like hack-proof internet infrastructure and ultra-detailed cancer detection methods, by leveraging quantum technologies.

The University will give $50,000 to companies to do whatever they want to advance their product, as well as provide access to University offices, laboratory space, and other technologies. All of those efforts, put together, could turn Chicago into a veritable Silicon Valley of the Midwest.

Companies’ Opportunities With the Accelerator

JB Pritzker, the current governor of Illinois, said quantum technology has a relatively untapped potential to change the way we do business and solve problems in this country. He also believes the University of Chicago will play a crucial role in the technology paradigm shift among startup businesses.

“The sheer potential of quantum to transform the way so many sectors operate has been matched at only a few points in human history, and Illinois’ advantages in the quantum revolution have already centered our state as a leader,” the governor said. “Thanks to this partnership between the University and the Chicago Quantum Exchange, entrepreneurs in the quantum science and technology space will have access to critical resources as they work to transform the economy of tomorrow.”

The Value of Quantum Startup Businesses

Not only could the University of Chicago be charting a new course for startup companies in the Midwest, but they are also entering a lucrative market. The global quantum technology market is expected to reach a valuation of $21.6 billion by 2025. Between the years of 2020 and 2025, North America is anticipated to be the biggest regional market for quantum technologies in the world.

All things considered, it’s possible that the University of Chicago is onto something. More than that, though, it could be an opportunity for quantum technology startup companies to get the boost they need in a market that has not yet fully recovered but, hopefully, will soon.

About the Author


Headshot of Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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