Gurudev Dutt Wins Award in Million Dollar International Quantum U Tech Accelerator

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 7 September 2020

The Innovare Advancement Center, a partnership between the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI), New York State, and others, hosted a unique quantum-focused virtual pitch competition, the “Million Dollar International Quantum U Tech Accelerator,” on September 1-3 to launch their new open innovation campus in Rome, NY.

The goal of the competition was to encourage university researchers that pursue high impact projects in quantum timing, sensing, information processing/computing, and communications/networking to bring a new quantum phenomenon into the military while offering about $1,000,000 to the finalists.

Even with nearly 250 teams from 22 countries submitting proposals to take part in the competition, two PQI faculty, Dr. Tom Purdy and Dr. Gurudev Dutt, were among the top 36 selected to take part in the live pitch event, each giving a 10-minute presentation with Q&A (watch presentations from Tom and Gurudev). Ultimately, 18 finalists were selected for the $1M+ in basic research funds and Gurudev won in the topic of quantum sensing.

This type of event may be among the first of its kind – over the 3 days, nearly a thousand viewers that included researchers, members of industry, education leaders, and the general public were invited to virtually attend talks that included program overviews from military leaders, poster pitches from scientists for the competition, the keynote “Quantum Fundamentals for Everyone” by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force Acquisition Executive Dr. Will Roper, and the live announcement of the 18 award winners.

“I had not pitched at such an event before, it was a great experience to try and distill the research and show its impact on defense applications and the fundamental science aspect,” said Gurudev. “It was also refreshing to have immediate feedback in comparison to traditional grants.”

The Innovare Advancement Center seeks to engage partners to initiate entrepreneurial ventures and tech startups in key strategic areas, including artificial intelligence/machine learning, cybersecurity, and quantum, in addition to building a robust talent pipeline at a time when scientific advancement across boundaries is needed.

“This is something I am actually excited to learn more about it’s the first time I’m working with such an accelerator,” Gurudev said, “I hope to work with people at AFRL and possibly other technology partners from Innovare to see how our research can tie into their needs, products or offer solutions to their problems.”

Gurudev focuses on the quantum control of condensed matter systems and more specifically, examines nitrogen vacancy (NV) centers in diamond. NV centers have been explored as qubits, applied as sensors, and used to study quantum entanglement.

“Our goal in this research is to greatly enhance the sensitivity of diamond quantum magnetometers using quantum memory and quantum algorithms. The main defense application for such magnetometers are to allow for navigation in GPS- poor or GPS-denied environments,” described Gurudev.

Information on the Innovare Advancement Center and the other finalists selected in this competition can be found in this press release.

Written by Jenny Stein