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Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Releases Quantum Information Sciences (QIS) Report

On the heels of the announcement that IonQ will open a quantum computing research and manufacturing facility in Bothell, WA as part of its $1 billion investment in the Pacific Northwest in the next 10 years, the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) has released its new report, Quantum Information Sciences (QIS) in Washington state. Prepared by Moonbeam for the association’s Advanced Technology Cluster, the report solidifies Washington’s established expertise in quantum computing and highlights opportunities for specialization, QIS workforce expansion, and collaboration with other material clusters around the country.  

Quantum computing is receiving more attention in Washington and worldwide, and it is being touted as a “game-changer” that has disruptive applications in various industries, from healthcare to finance to transport and logistics. According to IBM, “Quantum computing is a rapidly-emerging technology that harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers.” 

Washington state is a leader in quantum computing
Washington state has long been a catalyst for technological innovation, with locally built technologies transforming not only their own industries, but driving significant economic growth both regionally and internationally. Quantum is no exception: Washington is the only state that  already has an established innovation hub, exemplary academic institutions, and is home to the headquarters of major technology companies investing heavily in QIS.

The report highlights new opportunities for the state and the potential for quantum to support industries where Washington is already a leader, like life sciences, agriculture, and cybersecurity. Additionally, Washington state is already producing ample QIS talent thanks to investments in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and strong university programs. However, the state must prioritize quantum programming that supports minorities, women, and international students to build a more diverse workforce. The state should also seek to make connections with complementary industry clusters and quantum initiatives globally to catalyze innovation.

Key takeaways from the QIS Report

Washington State

  • Washington QIS investors are located exclusively in the Seattle metro area, and nearly 50% of existing investors are focused on supporting software, materials, and healthcare QIS businesses.
  • Washington state is experiencing ‘brain drain,’ with local universities producing more quantum professionals than can be employed locally.
  • 50% of students in quantum programs are foreign nationals, and many struggle to apply for and receive visas to continue working within the state and U.S. following graduation.


  • The U.S. has actively funded QIS research and development (R&D) for the past 15 years, with significant increases since 2019. Over half of the last 15 years’ worth of funding was allocated between 2019 and 2022.
  • Venture capital is the most common type of primary investment (55% of all deals) for QIS startups, both in terms of total number of companies and total number of investments. The deal count has also steadily increased over time, from 52 in 2017 to 128 in 2022, peaking at 142 in 2021.
  • Quantum sensing (QS) expects to grow its market share in the foreseeable future, leveraging atomic clocks, gravity sensors, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) quantum sensors, and magnetic sensors. QS growth will be driven by the defense and agriculture industries.


  • Globally, QS shows high promise for the military and defense industry, but reducing manufacturing costs is critical for adoption.
  • Most quantum technology patents are filed by companies in China (54%) and Japan (15%).
  • There are currently 162 universities and institutions worldwide with QIS-focused educational programs and research activity.

In January 2022, WTIA was awarded $550,000 from the State of Washington’s Innovation Cluster Accelerator to enable the development of an Advanced Technology Cluster to drive private investment, job creation, and world-leading innovation throughout the state. The Cluster aims to build connectivity and collaboration across blockchain technologies and quantum computing, uniting corporations, academia, startups, government, and investors to power the next generation of growth for both of these sectors. In 2023, the Cluster plans to work more closely with schools on tech transfer and commercialization, develop resources around SBIR and STTR to grow local access to funding and forge new industry partnerships.

Recommendations and Next steps

For its part, the Advanced Technology Cluster will focus on the following findings, recommendations, and next steps highlighted in the QIS report:

Focus: Expand Quantum Leadership in Washington state


  • Based on our research, Washington state has a unique blend of capabilities across the full technology stack to act as a national leader in quantum adoption through coordination with other clusters.


  • Washington should position itself to be the convener and center of gravity for QIS – perhaps growing out of the Northwest Quantum Network Summit – in collaboration with clusters in Chicago, D.C., and Colorado.

Next steps:

The Cluster should focus on:

  • Building cross-sector partnerships within the region
  • Building partnerships outside of the region (including international), including broad ecosystem building across stakeholder groups
  • Mapping the ecosystem: The Cluster will continue to research companies, investors, universities, and others working in the space so we can proactively reach out to potential partners and stakeholders

Focus: Entrepreneurship and Attract Investment


  • Washington state excels at attracting basic research funding and it has a highly engaged technology industry investing in corporate R&D and commercialization. However, it underperforms in attracting government commercialization funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and other sources of non-dilutive investment. 


  • Non-Dilutive Investment Attraction: Programming to help quantum entrepreneurs successfully apply for and win grants to finalize research and commercialize quantum solutions will accelerate this sector
  • Founder Attraction and Development: The Cluster should support efforts to attract global quantum startups to Washington state.

Next steps:

  • WTIA Startup Programs: WTIA already produces resources for startups and will continue to promote these resources to advanced technology startups.
  • SBIR/STTR Support: The Cluster will determine ways to provide more support for non-dilutive funding, such as building relationships with agencies that provide these funds, providing information on funding opportunities to relevant startups, and finding ways to support applications.
  • Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Training: The Cluster will explore partnerships with schools in the region to promote more entrepreneurial training for individuals researching advanced technologies like quantum and blockchain. These will include:
    • Introductions: The Cluster will continue making introductions to relevant investors, service providers, potential partners, and others for startups.
    • Coaching and Mentorship: 100+ volunteer mentors already provide support for startups. Going forward, the Cluster will look to recruit additional mentors and coaches with expertise in blockchain and quantum.
    • Accelerators: The Cluster will look to partner with existing accelerators, and in the future, build our own focused on advanced technologies.

Focus: Grow and Retain Talent


  • ​Washington must develop programs to retain and promote diversity in the quantum workforce. 50% of students in quantum programs are foreign nationals and need visa sponsorship to remain in the U.S. after graduation. 


  • Immigration: Programs to support startups to hire locally educated foreign nationals would help catalyze this Cluster.
  • DE&I mentorship: Programs that support minority, women, and international students to mid-career professionals to get access to mentorship to help them advance to leadership can go a long way to building a diverse workforce. 

Next Steps:

  • Thought Leadership and Policymaker Education: Efforts will continue to educate policymakers on the importance of investing in these sectors to ensure future competitiveness and growth
  • Increase QIS Fluency & Literacy: It’s important to increase QIS literacy, meaning that more people beyond those studying QIS understand the technology. For example, we believe that for QIS to reach its full potential, business majors should be educated on the basics of the technology. The Cluster is seeking opportunities to guest lecture at universities to talk about the basics of advanced technologies. In addition, the Cluster is exploring:
    • Education Roundtables: Bringing together industry and academia to discuss talent gaps, future skill needs, and other topics related to workforce development
    • School Advisory Boards: To influence curriculum, more technologists are needed on advisory boards at different schools. The Cluster is working to help recruit people for those roles.
    • Work to develop partnerships across a variety of academic institutions, such as CTC, apprenticeships, four-year colleges, etc.: It’s important to support workforce development in several ways, from working with community and technical colleges to apprenticeship programs to four-year institutions to coding schools. By supporting education in all these areas, we can help more people build skills and fulfill the need for talent in these fields in the near and long term.

Download the full report.


  • Nick Ellingson

    Nick Ellingson started his career in software sales on the Eastside before joining the WTIA team. Now he finds new members for the WTIA community, listening to feedback about events and resources, and finding fun and creative ways to get more people involved with WTIA. In his personal time, he can be found playing video games, playing basketball, reading, writing, or spending time with friends. If the Chicago Bulls are playing, he's watching.

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