The BIG Idea: "I want you to Change the Flow of the River!"
The South Carolina Quantum Association got its first start on a fateful Friday morning in November, 2021 when Joe bumped into Senator Dick Harpootlian at a Starbucks in Columbia, SC's historic Five Points District, which Dick represents.
Joe shared a vision he and Chris Heivly had for Five Points: a community innovation district, tapping the grit of the local arts community, the central location near Allen University, Benedict College, Midlands Tech, and the University of South Carolina, and the vast community of researchers and retirees who might serve as potential collaborators, mentors, or executives.
Dick listened unamused then, perhaps regrettably asked, How could he help?
Joe mumbled, “That you are aware of what we’re doing is very helpful.” Dick replied, “WT does that mean?”, then challenged him to come back with a BIG idea. Something transformational. Something so bold that it could "Change the flow of the river." Something…by Monday morning.
Joe spent the weekend studying future technology trends, scouring through federal budgets, researching regional capabilities - what we had and did not have - and then called Chris to pitch the BIG idea. Chris said, "This isn't dumb." By Sunday night they built a model that would try to engage as many collaborators as possible and by Monday morning, there was only one (logical?) idea, one so transformational that it could change the flow of the river in Columbia…
“Senator, we need to buy a quantum computer.”
After a year that will live in infamy: We tried. We failed. We pivoted.
With thanks to support from Senator Harpootlian, Dr. Tracy Dunn, Dr. Robert Garner, Dr. Joan Marler, Dr. Michael Amiridis, Mayor Daniel Rickenman, Jeff Ruble, founding board members Aaron Taylor and Chris Heivly, plus countless others, the South Carolina Legislature authorized $15Million of taxpayer funds in the 2023-24 FY budget to support executing the three pillars of our mission: To provide education, innovation and collaboration support - including a destination for those interested in the exchange of ideas regarding the future of Quantum computing in South Carolina and across the Southeast.
1) Education (curriculum, training and workforce development across S.C.)
2) Innovation (and ecosystem development support)
3) Collaboration (and convening experts)
Just as Senator Harpootlian originally envisioned, this collaborative effort will convene experts and entrepreneurs in the Five Points District, home of the Boyd Innovation Center, an inclusive destination that supports high-growth businesses with the mentorship of technology and business experts.
Progress will not happen overnight. While we will be working on all three areas concurrently, it is likely initial results will be seen through the convening and engagement of corporate partners with QIS experts, researchers, students, and application developers solving real-world problems. One of our key long-term metrics is higher job placement rates at higher salaries - and keeping those jobs in South Carolina...thereby changing the flow of the river.
The South Carolina Quantum Association
P.O. Box 5584 Columbia, South Carolina 29205-9998
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