US announces $5bn for chip R&D and workforce development

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The US Administration has announced that it plans to invest over $5bn in semiconductor-related research, development, and workforce needs, including in the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), to advance its goals of driving R&D in the United States.

As part of the implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act and the President’s Investing in America agenda, these investments will look to advance US leadership in semiconductor R&D, accelerate the commercialisation of new technologies, bolster US national security, and connect and support workers in securing semiconductor jobs.

Currently, the US produces less than 10 percent of the global supply of semiconductors and none of the most advanced chips.

Under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the CHIPS and Science Act aims to raise investment in semiconductor manufacturing, research and development (R&D), and the workforce.

The CHIPS R&D program includes $11bn in total funding to advance four programs: the NSTC; the National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP); the CHIPS Metrology Program; and the CHIPS Manufacturing USA Institute.

The NSTC, as the centrepiece of the CHIPS R&D program, will bring together and support government, industry, labour, customers, suppliers, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, and investors to accelerate the pace of new innovations, lower barriers to participation in semiconductor R&D, and directly address fundamental needs for a skilled, diverse semiconductor workforce.

To date the US Administration has announced several milestones that are seen as helping to drive US leadership in cutting-edge semiconductor research and development, including:

  • Planning to invest at least $5bn in the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) which will ensure US leadership in the next generation of semiconductor technologies by supporting the design, prototyping, and piloting of the latest semiconductor technologies; leveraging shared facilities and expertise to ensure innovators have access to critical capabilities; and building and sustaining a skilled and diverse semiconductor workforce.
  • Announcing research priorities for the NSTC for 2024, including identifying early start research programs; and
  • Launching the NSTC Community of Interest, a no-cost, pre-membership program for interested stakeholders to provide input into the program offerings and structure of the NSTC.

The Administration is also focusing on investing in the NSTC’s workforce efforts, including the creation of a Workforce Center of Excellence with a presence in multiple regions.

The NSTC will leverage workforce investments made by industry, academia, and other education and workforce partners and use its own funding to bring various stakeholders together, facilitating connections between employers and education and training providers and registered apprenticeship programs.

Other announcements included plans to invest at least $200 million in a CHIPS Manufacturing USA Institute to create a first-of-its-kind semiconductor manufacturing digital twin institute, which will allow innovators to replicate and experiment with physical manufacturing processes at low cost, helping to significantly reduce chip development and manufacturing costs, improve development cycle time, and accelerate the adoption of innovation semiconductor manufacturing technologies.

A further $300 million in funds will be used to support new R&D activities in advanced packaging of substrates and substrate materials, a key technology for manufacturing semiconductors, to improve all aspects of system performance and support the breadth of new semiconductor applications.

In addition, $100 million has been made available to 29 projects in the CHIPS Metrology program addressing common needs across the microelectronic industry.

Current projects are helping to develop new measurement instruments, measurement methods, and measurement-informed models and simulations for advanced microelectronics design and manufacturing, all of which will help inventors and entrepreneurs more easily scale innovations into commercial products.