Despite looming budget challenges made worse by the coronavirus and voters’ rejection of new income-tax plan, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state will make good on its commitment to provide $200 million for quantum computing research at the University of Chicago, Argonne and Fermi national laboratories, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“Even with all the fiscal challenges Illinois has, with all the things we’re going to have to do to balance our budget in these difficult Covid-19 times, that (commitment) is not in danger,” Pritzker said today at the Chicago Quantum Summit, a virtual gathering of scientists and academics hosted by the U of C’s Quantum Exchange. The money comes from the state’s $45 capital investment plan passed last year, not its operating budget.

Researchers at universities and technology companies are racing to develop quantum computing, the idea of using atomic particles rather than transistors to transmit and process data.

If it’s successful, the new approach would exponentially improve computing, offering greater speed, security and processing capacity than traditional methods. The idea has captured the interest and funding of the banking, financial markets and pharmaceutical industries.

Pritzker, a former venture capitalist, has been an enthusiastic backer of the idea as a way for Chicago and the state of Illinois to put itself at the center of a cutting-edge industry that would provide jobs and investment for decades to come.