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US Department of Commerce Launches Next Phase for Over $5 Billion in CHIPS R&D Investments 

WASHINGTON - Leaders from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Energy; and the National Science Foundation; and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Center for the Advancement of Semiconductor Technology (Natcast) gathered at the White House to announce over $5 billion in expected investment in the CHIPS R&D program, including the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), and formally establish a public-private consortium for the NSTC. The announcement included hundreds of millions of dollars of expected investment in the semiconductor workforce; along with specific funding announcements in packaging, metrology, and a CHIPS Manufacturing USA Institute. This announcement is a reflection of President Biden’s commitment to American innovation and research and development, according to the official website of the US Department of Commerce.

The NSTC is the centerpiece of CHIPS for America’s $11 billion research and development (R&D) program. A once in-a-generation opportunity, the NSTC will bring together government, industry, labor, customers, suppliers, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, and investors to accelerate the pace of new innovations from idea to marketplace. As a public-private consortium, the NSTC will lower the barriers to participation in semiconductor R&D to create a more vibrant national ecosystem and to directly address fundamental needs for a skilled, diverse semiconductor workforce.

Following the announcements and consortium agreement signing, leaders from across the semiconductor community participated in roundtables led by White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar, National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Director Laurie E. Locascio, along with senior government leaders from the White House; Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Labor, Education; and the National Science Foundation. The roundtables centered on the R&D opportunities and need for industry participation, along with how CHIPS for America will help increase access to talent for employers and access to opportunity for Americans who want to work in the semiconductor industry.

“CHIPS research and development programs are at the core of our greatest innovations and help to find the solutions for the semiconductor industry’s most pressing challenges. With strategic investments in R&D complementing targeted industry incentives, CHIPS for America will not only bring semiconductor manufacturing back to the U.S. – it will keep it here for good. As we create opportunities for good-paying jobs, the workforce initiatives, such as the NSTC Workforce Center of Excellence, will help ensure a diverse, skilled, and prepared workforce across the nation,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

“Because of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, semiconductor manufacturing is coming back in America. Now it’s time to make sure we win the future, too. The NSTC is a place where our CHIPS R&D investments will deliver big advances—advances that will open opportunities for the American semiconductor industry, create good-paying jobs, and strengthen our supply chains,” said White House Office of Science and Technology Director Arati Prabhakar.

President Biden’s CHIPS and Science Act appropriated $39 billion to the Department of Commerce in funding to onshore semiconductor manufacturing through an incentives program. The appropriation also included $11 billion to advance U.S. leadership in semiconductor R&D through four programs: the NSTC, the National Advanced Packing Manufacturing Program, the CHIPS Metrology Program and the CHIPS Manufacturing USA Institute.

“For the United States to lead the world in semiconductors, all parts of the R&D enterprise must work hand in hand with manufacturers to bolster each other’s successes and move the industry ever forward,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Director Laurie E. Locascio. “With the NSTC at the epicenter, CHIPS R&D programs are working to revolutionize the U.S. semiconductor ecosystem and enable rapid adoption of innovations to enhance domestic competitiveness for decades to come.” 

With the official launch of the NSTC consortium, there are opportunities to express interest in joining the NSTC. Further information about this may be found on the Natcast website.

“Our first priority is to build a community whose members will help define the strategy and investments core to the semiconductor R&D ecosystem,” said Deirdre Hanford, CEO of Natcast, the nonprofit operator of the NSTC. “The NSTC represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to establish a new, long-lasting institution that can serve as an engine of innovation to benefit our nation's national and economic security for decades to come.”

The NSTC is one of four CHIPS for America research and development programs. Together, these programs are establishing the innovation ecosystem needed to ensure that American semiconductor fabrication facilities, including those funded by the CHIPS for America Act, produce the world’s most sophisticated and advanced technologies. CHIPS for America’s Jay Lewis, NSTC Program Director, and Deirdre Hanford, CEO of Natcast, will provide an update on early NSTC activities in March 2024.