White House launches $1bn fund to establish AI and quantum computing research hubs

Funds are meant to spur innovation, support economic growth and train the next-generation workforce

The White House has announced $1 billion in new funding for multidisciplinary artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing research institutes.

As part of the White House’s effort to ensure the US remains globally competitive in AI and quantum technologies, the administration will establish 12 new research institutes in the next five years. 

The research institutes will be hosted by universities nationwide, including University of Oklahoma, University of Texas at Austin, University of Colorado, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of California, Davis and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In the announcement, US CTO Michael Kratsios said the research institutes “will serve as national R&D hubs for these critical industries of the future, spurring innovation, supporting regional economic growth, and training our next-generation workforce.”

Under the National Science Foundation (NSF), seven AI research institutes will receive a total of $140 million over five years. Research will focus on machine learning, synthetic manufacturing, precision agriculture and forecasting prediction. The NSF anticipates awarding additional funds in the coming years, including contributions from partner agencies.

Five new QIS Research Centers led by the Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratory teams will benefit from $625 million in funding over the next five years. Per the announcement, the private sector and academia will provide an additional $300 million in contributions for the research centers as well, which will focus on topics such as quantum networking, sensing, computing and materials manufacturing.

A strong emphasis will be put on training and education too. The White House also sees the research institutes as a way to promote diversity in the sector.

“At least six minority serving institutions, including historically black colleges and universities like Tuskegee University, are among the partners,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan told The Wall Street Journal

“In this way, we are establishing a network that we hope expands to involve not only every state, but every segment of our society,” Panchanathan added.

Today’s announcement coincides with continuing competitive pressure from China and other countries investing in emerging technologies. According to a 2019 report from the Center for Data Innovation, China has outpaced both the US and the European Union when it comes to adopting AI.

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