NSF to Helm Nearly $50M Semiconductor Public-Private Partnership

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The National Science Foundation will work alongside four private sector companies to spur developments in the U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturing field.

A new public-private partnership attempts to continue the U.S.’s mission to achieve independence in semiconductor manufacturing against a complicated geopolitical landscape. 

Announced on Thursday, the National Science Foundation will be partnering with tech sector giants IBM, Ericsson, Intel, and Samsung in a nearly $50 million semiconductor design and manufacturing initiative. 

“Future semiconductors and microelectronics will require transdisciplinary research spanning materials, devices and systems, as well as the engagement of the full spectrum of talent in the academic and industrial sectors,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said in prepared comments. “Partnerships such as this are essential to inform research needs, spur innovation, accelerate the translation of results to the market, and prepare the future workforce.”

This latest NSF initiative will focus on supporting researchers who are integrating supporting materials, devices, systems and applications into novel semiconductor technology. Tangent approaches the partnership looks to foster include sustainable manufacturing. 

The Biden administration has been advocating the formation of more public-private sector partnerships as a means to spur innovation within the U.S. technology industry, with a particular focus on cultivating a strong semiconductor workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic and diplomatic tensions with China have resulted in supply chain shocks, catalyzing the U.S. government’s interest in establishing more domestic semiconductor manufacturing hubs.

Just 10% of the global supply of semiconductors are produced nationally, according to the NSF. One of the key pieces of legislation passed in 2022 was the CHIPS and Science Act, which granted $11 billion in federal funding to enrich the U.S. semiconductor sector. 

As part of the law’s stipulations, the White House President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a total of 10 recommendations to jumpstart the semiconductor industry in the U.S. Some of the recommendations include focusing on advanced education to build a strong workforce and fostering an environment that supports public-private partnership in the field.