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Science and Technology Partnerships and Outreach

Duality Program: Engaging with Argonne National Laboratory

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center that is home to approximately 1,600 researchers and some of the most powerful and rare facilities and tools in the world.

Argonne is proud to be a Founding Partner in Duality.

Below are FAQ’s to help companies in the Duality program better understand what a collaboration with Argonne would look like, what requirements are associated with working with Argonne, and what Argonne has to offer to quantum startups.

In addition to Duality, quantum startups may engage Argonne directly by:

If you have questions, contact partners@​anl.​gov.

What are Argonne’s major offerings for quantum startups?
Argonne has three major quantum thrust areas that can be leveraged to support the development of early-stage technologies related to quantum computing and quantum information systems:

  • Quantum Computing: Computing and networking infrastructure (quantum internet) rely on the development of quantum materials, stable qubits and hardware, devices, and algorithms. Resources at Argonne to support this work include the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility. Of particular interest is QuaC, which supports the classical simulation of quantum devices, especially for noisy quantum architectures that will be the norm for the immediate future. In 2022, Argonne expects to bring online Aurora, one of the first exascale computers that will further support the development of QIS innovations. Argonne’s Quantum Loop entangles photons across a 52-mile network in the Chicago suburbs and can support innovations related directly to quantum networking infrastructure and devices needed to enable the quantum internet.
  • Quantum Materials: Qubits are the fundamental basis for many quantum innovations, but next-generation systems will rely on major advances in stability and robustness in order to be commercially viable. Argonne has superb general support for advanced materials in many of its core programmatic divisions, including the Materials Science, Chemical Sciences and Engineering and Applied Materials divisions, as well as facilities such as the Center for Nanoscale Materials, the Advanced Photon Source, and the Materials Engineering Research Facility. As lead of Q-NEXT, Argonne is building out a Quantum Foundry that will focus specifically on quantum materials and the needs of industry to develop new materials and devices.
  • Quantum Sensing: Qubits and other system that entangle quantum states can be used in a wide verity of sensing applications. Argonne has a number of researchers and projects focused on developing these types of devices for applications such as imaging brain function, searching for gravitational waves, and hunting for dark matter. Expertise in superconducting materials and thin films is available in multiple divisions at Argonne. The South Pole Telescope measures the cosmic microwave background using upgraded sensors that leverage quantum systems for enhanced sensitivity.

If I am applying to Duality, should I state that I want to work with Argonne?
Yes. Please include on your Duality application that you would like to engage Argonne. We would ask that you identify:

  • Any Argonne researchers with whom you would like to collaborate
  • Any unique resources at Argonne that you would like to use
  • Any Argonne research projects that you believe align with your work

The more detail you can provide, the better. 

If I am selected into Duality, am I automatically allowed to work with or at Argonne?
Acceptance into Duality provides access to funding and resources of the Duality programming, including world-class business mentoring from the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Booth School of Business. However, to engage Argonne, or any other Duality member, in collaborative research is a separate decision that each party must make. 

If I am selected into Duality, will I need to engage Argonne directly for collaborative research?
Yes. The Duality program will help facilitate discussions between your company and Argonne.  However, startups will be responsible for pursuing a direct collaborative research project with Argonne.

What are the critical components needed to collaborate with Argonne as part of Duality?
The components that form the foundation of any collaborative research at Argonne are: (1) a scope of work; (2) an Argonne researcher willing and able to support the work; and (3) funding to support each party. Of course, there are additional requirements – such as agreements (described below) as well as institutional and regulatory approvals – but those first three elements are critical and why Argonne encourages Duality applicants to identify whom at Argonne with which they would like to work. From there, Argonne can determine what funding sources may be available to support Argonne’s effort on the collaboration. 

Can Argonne fund my research as part of Duality?
Argonne, as a federally funded research and development center, is not a grant-giving institution. Additionally, certain government requirements prohibit it from sending funds to collaborators for projects under Collaborative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). However, Argonne can use federal funds to support its efforts to further the research.   

Will Argonne engage my company directly, or do I need to go through Duality?
Due to the requirements of the Argonne approval processes, Argonne prefers to work and contract directly with any startups participating in Duality. If the collaborative research involves other parties or members (beyond Argonne and the startup), the collaborative research agreement may need to be expanded to include those other collaborators. If you have any questions on this topic, please contact partners@​anl.​gov

What are mechanisms for startups in the Duality program to engage with Argonne?
First, a startup may engage as a user of a DOE National User Facility at Argonne. Argonne is home to three User Facilities with capabilities related to quantum technology research: the Advanced Photon Source, the Center for Nanoscale Materials, and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility. These resources are made available to certain registered and selected users. Startups seeking to leverage these User Facilities should first register as users, and then submit a proposal to the User Facility they would like to access. All proposals undergo a peer review process. If a proposal is selected, that user would be able to perform research at that Facility within the scope of the proposal. 

Second, a startup may engage Argonne through the previously mentioned Collaborative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). The CRADA terms will provide the startup with certain rights to inventions and data generated during the program. Companies that are in the Duality program that want to collaborate with Argonne are required to complete the CRADA paperwork and submit it to Argonne. All entities associated with the program must go through a due diligence review to identify any conflicts of interest with Argonne. All CRADAs will be subject to the standard DOE approval process.

Will Argonne or DOE take any rights to my background IP if I collaborate with Argonne?
No. By collaborating with Argonne (either through a User Agreement or CRADA), Argonne and DOE will not require that anyone provide rights or licenses to the startup’s background IP, except as necessary for Argonne to perform work under the applicable agreement. 

Will Argonne or DOE take any equity in my company if I collaborate with Argonne?
No. By collaborating with Argonne (either through a User Agreement or CRADA), Argonne and DOE will not ask for or take any equity in your company. 

What are the requirements for Site Access to Argonne?
For any startup seeking Site Access to Argonne as part of an approved project, an Argonne representative will contact you directly to make arrangements for site access. For any individual who is not a U.S. citizen (including Lawful Permanent Residents), Argonne must follow the Laboratory Policy on Foreign Visits and Assignments for requests for Site Access.

Does Argonne have any special processes for engaging foreign companies?
As a U.S. Government facility engaged in research of importance to the nation, Argonne is required to follow various federal laws and regulations (such as export control), as well as government policies and procedures.  In December 2019, DOE issued revised DOE Policy 485.1 on Foreign Engagements with DOE National Laboratories.  For any CRADA with a company falling under DOE P 485.1, Argonne will follow the requirements of that DOE policy, which requires that the participant’s CRADA be subject to extra reviews by additional offices within DOE. Please note that those extra reviews add to the review cycle, and that approval is not guaranteed.

How does DOE P 485.1 define foreign” companies?
In that policy, DOE defines foreign” as follows:

  • For purposes of this Policy, foreign entities” include: (1) any foreign government or foreign government agency or instrumentality thereof; (2) any international organization; (3) any form of business enterprise or legal entity organized, chartered or incorporated under the laws of any country other than the United States or its territories; (4) any form of business enterprise organized or incorporated under the laws of the United States or a State or other jurisdiction within the United States which is owned, controlled or influenced by a foreign government, agency, firm, corporation, or a person who is not a citizen or national of the United States; and (5) any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States.

Importantly, please note that the definition of foreign” for DOE P 485.1 is a different standard from whether a business is incorporated in the U.S., or whether the company is a domestic small business under the SBIR eligibility requirements.

Does DOE provide any guidance as to what is foreign owned, controlled or influenced”?
Non-exhaustive examples include foreign investors, employees, and board members.

Can I apply to Chain Reaction Innovations and Duality at the same time?
Yes. Individuals and startups eligible for both programs are encouraged to apply to both programs to maximize their opportunities. Please note that these programs have differing application deadlines, start dates, and program durations. 

Can I participate in Chain Reaction Innovations and Duality at the same time?
To the greatest extent possible, Argonne will attempt to support startups selected for both programs. However, contemporaneous participation may not be possible in all cases. Each program has its own requirements, including substantial time commitments for programming.  Startups seeking to participate in both programs at the same time should be prepared to explain how they will be able to meet the commitments of both programs simultaneously. To avoid potential duplicative use of federal funds, each project will proceed under a separate agreement (with potentially differing terms), and work under each project will need to be distinguishable. Further, a participant in Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) may be required to reduce their ORISE fellowship to reflect reduced time commitment to the CRI program.