Unitary Fund Launches New Quantum Micro-Grant Program and Five-Year Research Collaboration funded by the DOE

W. J. Zeng
3 min readNov 21, 2019

By Alexander Levy and Will Zeng

New program will fund individuals and teams of any background to pursue innovative projects in quantum technology —

Unitary Fund today launched a new micro-grant program that will award up to 20 new grants to individuals and teams using quantum technology to benefit humanity. Our sponsors include IBM, Alphabet X (formerly Google X), Microsoft, Rigetti, Xanadu, and Zapata Computing. We’re thrilled with the projects we’ve supported so far and are excited to take the program to the next stage with this new support.

We’re also announcing the launch of Unitary Labs, an in-house research group, as part of a new collaboration supported by the Department of Energy’s ARQC (Accelerated Research in Quantum Computing) program. Bringing together researchers at Stanford University, Johns Hopkins, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Dartmouth, University of Maryland, and the University of Chicago, the $9M collaboration will promote the development of software tools for near-term quantum computers.

Unitary Fund’s new micro-grant program supports people pursuing work in quantum technology from any background, anywhere in the world, without requiring special credentials or previous quantum experience. The emerging quantum technology industry is so new, and moving so fast, that only waiting for more people to finish doctoral degrees is a missed opportunity. We want to attract anyone who can make a big, positive, impact on quantum technology, and we’ve seen firsthand that those people can often be newcomers to the field.

The pilot version of the micro-grant program, launched last year and has already achieved significant results. We’ve funded eleven project teams in ten countries, leading to six completed or planned quantum publications, bringing four entirely new people into the field full-time, and helping to launch one new quantum startup.

The new program increases both the number of grants and the value of grants. The standard grant will grow from $2,000 (USD) to $4,000 (USD) per project. Through the support of the sponsors, the grant includes free credits for Rigetti’s Quantum Cloud Services as well as priority-tier access to the IBMQ system.

This new round of grants also broadens the spectrum of projects beyond open source quantum software. With our new supporters’ generous backing, we’re broadening our scope to quantum technology projects in general. We’d love to fund projects for quantum control systems, hardware, sensors, and more.

Previous Unitary Fund-sponsored projects included:

● Gate42 — to develop open source libraries for quantum error mitigation and dynamical decoupling

● SciGym — to build an open source library for reinforcement learning environments in quantum science.

● NISQAI — a library for machine learning with near-term quantum processors

● Quantum Programming Studio — an open source in-browser IDE for multi-platform quantum programming

● QCousins — to support their mission of welcoming a young and diverse group of programmers into quantum computing.

● Qurry — a probabilistic programming language for quantum computing

● pyZX — an optimizing quantum circuit compiler based on a diagrammatic semantics from monoidal categories that outperforms the state of the art in reducing T-Count

● QCGPU — a high performance quantum circuit simulator

● The Avalon quantum programming language and support for quantum programming communities in India and D. R. Congo.

● A traveling salesman solver web application and tutorials for Forest based on the quantum approximate optimization algorithm

● Adiabatically Assisted Variational Quantum Eigensolvers in Forest, a hybrid classical-quantum algorithm for solving optimization problems

To read more about the projects or apply for project funding visit: https://unitary.fund/

About Unitary Fund

Unitary Fund’s mission is to help create a quantum technology industry that benefits the most people. We believe that expanding the pool of people working on quantum technologies is a way to ensure that the benefits are widely, swiftly, and equitably distributed. To learn more and apply for funding visit: https://unitary.fund/

About Unitary Fund’s Co-Founders

Alexander Levy previously served as Chief Scientist at Silicon Valley Bank, was a Co-Founder of AI-for-drug-discovery startup Atomwise, and is an advisor to a range of scientific startups, including Prellis and OccamzRazor.

Will Zeng previously led the software and applications team at Rigetti Computing, was a founding member of the US Quantum Economic Development Consortium, co-created Stanford’s first quantum programming course, and completed a PhD in quantum algorithms at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.



W. J. Zeng

Focused on making quantum computers useful asap. http://willzeng.com $\langle sold|\otimes|worn\rangle+|not sold\rangle\otimes|never worn\rangle/\sqrt{2}$