Erica Grant is the inventor and founder of Quantum Lock Technologies LLC. Grant’s company uses quantum physics to create better security for door locks and equipment access in facilities that store proprietary information, or which may be at risk for terrorist attacks.
Now in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory‘s Innovation Crossroads program, Grant completed her PhD in cross-cutting energy science, specializing in quantum computing, at UT Knoxville in December 2020.
Quantum Lock uses the inherent randomness in quantum physics to create unpredictable and encrypted digital keys that secure locks, equipment, computers, or robots embedded with technologies that allow them to connect with other devices or systems via communications networks. The mission of Quantum Lock is to create the best in physical security as it becomes increasingly linked to cybersecurity.
Grant said the market for Quantum Lock includes industrial control systems in the energy, manufacturing, and government sectors. The technology also can be applied to hotels, apartments, and other facilities.
Raised in Richmond, Va., Grant learned about entrepreneurship from her father who started Blue Triangle Technologies to monitor the effectiveness of commerce websites. During high school, Grant helped her dad at trade shows and with digital marketing.
Grant earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and minor in nanotechnology at Virginia Tech. She became interested in quantum computing after two internships at ORNL. She chose UT-ORII’s Energy Science and Engineering PhD program, in part, for its multidisciplinary entrepreneurial track.
“I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur to create something new that could positively impact the world and build my own team for innovation,” she said.
As part of Innovation Crossroads, Grant works with the Cybersecurity Institute at ORNL to develop prototypes. She hopes to have a pilot version in 2022. Grant has two patents for the Quantum Lock technology with 100 percent ownership.
With $500,000 from the Department of Energy’s Innovation Crossroads program, Grant has built a team of engineers, scientists, and business-minded industry experts. She also earned $75,000 in start-up money from several entrepreneurial competitions, including Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s 2019 “What’s the Big Idea?” pitch competition; the 2018 and 2019 VolCourt contests, the 2018 Boyd Venture Challenge, Launch Tennessee’s 36/86 Business Plan Competition, Innov865‘s Startup Day, and the Stu Clark New Venture Challenge. In 2021, Grant was named to Forbes’ “Next 1000” list.
To learn more about Grant’s company, go to: https://www.quantumlock.co/