Ezunial “Eze” Burts III has been named the new director of Duality, a pioneering quantum startup accelerator operated by the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in partnership with the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE), along with founding partners the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Argonne National Laboratory, and P33.
Burts joins Duality after a 20-year career with Boeing. Most recently he served as senior manager of future production systems and technology within the airplane manufacturer’s environmental health and safety leadership team, where he was responsible for the adoption of technology and innovative industry methods to drive safety, quality, digital transformation, factory automation, and future production strategy. Formally educated in public policy and building innovation ecosystems, Burts has worked to advance Fortune 500 science and technology programs and strategies from concept to university lab to marketplace.
Duality is the nation’s first incubator-accelerator devoted exclusively to supporting early-stage quantum startups, which play an important role in finding real-world applications for the revolutionary technology. The 12-month program provides entrepreneurial training, business expertise, industry mentorship, funding, access to world-class facilities, and co-location with some of the world’s leading quantum researchers in order to enable quantum technology ventures to thrive and grow.
As director, Burts will be responsible for the program’s operational management and long-term financial stability as well as internal and external stakeholder engagement.
“We are thrilled to welcome Eze to the Duality team at a critical time in the evolution of the quantum industry,” said Dan Sachs, executive director of Deep Tech Ventures, a unit of the Polsky Center that oversees a suite of deep tech accelerators including Duality. “Eze is a natural leader and ecosystem builder. Given the complexities of quantum technology commercialization, his experience and passion will be invaluable for our founders as we continue to build a quantum hub in Chicago.”
Since its launch in 2021, Duality has supported 11 startups from across the globe that are developing software and hardware technologies for quantum computing, communications, and sensing. Duality is now accepting applications for its third cohort. The deadline to apply is April 7.
“When I first visited Chicago as a young entrepreneur, I wish I had been able to participate in an accelerator like Duality — with access to substantial startup investment and infrastructure, a vast multidisciplinary network of mentors and expertise, dedicated office space, tech transfer and commercialization resources,” Burts said. “Having a 1-year-old daughter drives home the need to provide education and opportunities for her to become a future STEM leader. I want to inspire and empower her to take on the toughest challenges that improve life for her generation.”
Burts, a native of Los Angeles, graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy, Management, and Planning. He received an executive certificate in global marketing from Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and completed executive education courses at Harvard Kennedy School, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and MIT Sloan School of Management. He is a graduate of and has served as a Dynamics and Leadership instructor in the Global Logistics Professional Designation Program at California State University Long Beach. Burts also graduated from the Silicon Valley cohort of the Founder Institute, a pre-seed startup accelerator, with his startup EzuNile Industries, created to apply enhanced artificial intelligence and quantum computing technologies to global industrial water treatment and reuse methods, to improve efficiency and sustainability. Additionally, he is a founding board member of Thriving Elements, a nonprofit headquartered in Seattle that provides mentorship for girls in underserved neighborhoods who are pursuing STEM career paths.
“CQE looks forward to working closely with Eze as we build an inclusive quantum future,” said David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor and Vice Dean for Research of the Pritzker School for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and founding director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange. “Duality has played an important role in fueling the creation of cutting-edge quantum technologies, which is critical to our region’s development as the nation’s quantum economy. Eze will be a tremendous asset to Duality through its next stage of growth and to the region’s burgeoning quantum ecosystem.