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Catalyst Accelerator PNT Company Highlights Part 3: ColdQuanta and PreTalen

By Victoria Mann

Have you ever dreamed about being present when electricity was invented? When the first telegraph message came through? Or how about when the first plane flew?

I’m sure many people have had similar dreams – and then gone back to doing what they know how to do.

Some people, though, have dreamed and then decided to be there when the next big discovery is made, when the next crazy invention takes off. And they do that by pushing for new technologies and looking for new ways of doing things.

Colder-than-ice-cold atoms

Jayson Denney of ColdQuanta is one of those people. When I talked to Denney, he couldn’t tell me enough about the research his company is doing – and by research, I mean using lasers to manipulate atoms under vacuum to cool them to incredibly cold temperatures.

ColdQuanta’s roots lay in new discoveries: its CEO and founder, Dana Anderson, has collaborated with Eric Cornell, who won a Nobel Prize for the first demonstration of the fifth state of matter,  Bose-Einstein condensate. And now the company is doing what very few other people are doing: using the fundamental properties of atoms to power extremely precise technologies. The work, said Denney, is “quantum by definition.”

The two technologies they are bringing to the Accelerator are their Ruggedized Atomic Timekeeper – “lovingly called the RAT” – and a quantum-enabled signal detector for radio frequency (RF) signals. “We’re the core right now,” explained Denney, “around which other components can be added to create different technologies.”

The “quantum” aspect has multiple advantages. One is that both technologies are extremely precise (whether in timekeeping or detecting minute frequencies). The other advantage has become a catchphrase at ColdQuanta: “There’s no calibration needed.”

While ColdQuanta’s tech is extremely cutting-edge, they have one especially big challenge: their technology is so leading-edge, there isn’t a market for it yet. So, Denney and ColdQuanta are at the Accelerator to learn how to transition a technology for which there is currently no market space. But when it emerges, ColdQuanta is poised, ready to be there as the “heart” of those quantum technologies.

Synergy doesn’t happen solo

ColdQuanta is a good example of how companies can’t exist in isolation to be successful. Innovation often comes as a result of synergistic relationships.

Perhaps no one has expressed the desire for these relationships better than Rachel Reed from PreTalen. Reed gets that we’re going nowhere by ourselves. It takes people (and companies) with many different skillsets to create both new and beneficial technologies – which, by the way, is easy for government to say; industry, not so much, since they have to compete for business.

PreTalen is a women-owned small business focused on providing expert systems engineering support for space, navigation, electronic warfare and cyber security. They are proposing a transmitter that can transmit multiple user-defined, software-controlled navigation signals across the 1-2 GHz RF band.

“We think that collaboration is one of the biggest and best things you can do,” shared Reed. “We’re very interested in making new business connections so we can mind-meld a little.” Since no one is an expert in everything, PreTalen is using the Accelerator to meet people with different specialties to “create something new and innovative and something that can be beneficial to the warfighter.”

And they’re not just talking about new collaborations – they’re already collaborating with multiple other companies from the Accelerator.

Really, those connections are what the Accelerator is about. That’s why Rachel and her team, and Jayson and his team, are probably going to be there when the next big thing arises.

(This is Part 3 of a three-part article)