BOZEMAN, MT, July 2024 – The Biden-Harris Administration announced $41 million in funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for Montana’s Headwaters Tech Hub. The Headwaters Tech Hub is one of twelve ecosystems across the U.S. receiving implementation grants to scale up critical technology production, create long-term jobs in innovative industries, and strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

As part of this historic achievement, the Montana Photonics and Quantum Alliance (MPQA) is thrilled to share more about its role moving forward. The Headwaters Tech Hub aims to be a global leader in autonomous, photonic sensing technologies by leveraging regional assets across western Montana. This consortium will advance smart sensing systems that address critical needs in defense, resource management, precision agriculture, transportation, and many others. The Headwaters Tech Hub will be a multi-year effort that will engage sectors and entities across the state including industry, the Montana University System, tribal colleges, economic and workforce development organizations, state and local government entities, and venture capital.

To support the Hub, MPQA will establish integrated photonics hardware capabilities and infrastructure in the region. By leveraging semiconductor manufacturing processes for photonics on chips (photonics integrated circuits), the project will bring enabling technology to Montana to reduce traditional photonic sensors’ size, weight, and power. The IPE project will create capabilities at Montana State University for prototyping these devices. Sub-awardees supporting the IPE project include Phix, Inc. and Montana State University.

Tim VanReken, Regional Innovation Officer and Executive Director for the Montana Headwaters Tech Hub, celebrated this pivotal moment by saying, “MPQA has been a core member of the Headwaters Tech Hub consortium from the very start, and we wouldn’t be where we are without their deep expertise and support. I’m so excited about the new capabilities that the IPE project will bring to Montana, enabling cutting-edge tech development and paving the way for cheaper and more powerful sensors built into the tools we use every day.”

Jason Yager, Executive Director of MPQA, expressed his excitement for the announcement and MPQA’s role moving forward, “This EDA funding will transform the landscape of Montana’s thriving photonics and quantum communities, generating thousands of high-paying jobs, advancing cutting-edge photonic technologies, and establishing career paths for Montana’s most valuable resource, our children. Montana’s future looks brighter than ever.”

About the Montana Photonics and Quantum Alliance: The Montana Photonics and Quantum Alliance ( serves as a hub for Montana’s optics, photonics, and quantum companies, entrepreneurs, laboratories, and universities to commercialize, grow and sustain globally leading organizations that create high-quality jobs and economic opportunity in Montana. MPQA was founded in 2013 with over 54 member companies and 1,200 affiliated employees in Montana.



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