White House launches digital twins funding opportunity

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The Biden administration is investing over $280 million into digital twin technologies to innovate in semiconductor manufacturing and research.

The White House debuted a new funding opportunity as part of an ongoing effort to spur domestic semiconductor manufacturing and decrease reliance on foreign technology supply chains.

Announced on Monday, the $285 million funding opportunity is seeking proposals from eligible applicants to help establish and operate a CHIPS Manufacturing USA Institute, with a specific focus on digital twins for the semiconductor industry. 

Digital twins are virtual copies of physical technologies or systems that can provide insights and visualizations into how the real-world technology functions. These twins can leverage technologies like artificial intelligence to provide efficient ways to analyze and understand the systems they are simulating. 

“This investment in a new CHIPS Manufacturing USA institute will help unite the semiconductor industry to unlock enormous potential of digital twin technology for breakthrough discoveries,” Laurie Locascio, the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, told reporters on a Sunday press call. “Digital twin technology can significantly reduce U.S. chip development and manufacturing costs by improving capacity planning, production optimization, facility upgrades, and also provide real time process adjustments.”

Proposals for the CHIPS Manufacturing USA institute will be expected to integrate both physical and digital assets in areas like basic research related to semiconductor digital twins, establishing shared physical and digital facilities, workforce training and industry-relevant demonstrations. Expanding chips and semiconductor education and industry participation to underrepresented communities and smaller businesses is also a priority.

Applicants will be expected to establish at least two shared physical facilities where companies can execute relevant research while simultaneously hosting their digital twins software. Each institute will be formed by a public sector-private sector partnership to further innovation in U.S. chip manufacturing initiatives. The institute is intended to foster a collaborative network of research facilities dedicated to semiconductor advancement nationwide. 

“This institute is a prime example of how CHIPS for America is bringing research institutions and industry partners together in a public private partnership to enable rapid adoption of innovations that will enhance domestic competitiveness for decades to come,” Locascio said.

The notice of funding opportunity builds on the Biden administration’s longstanding efforts to fortify the U.S.’s domestic semiconductor and computing chip manufacturing sector to protect national security interests following the passage of the landmark CHIPS and Science Act

“When we build in America, we strengthen the supply chain of chips that feeds so many other industries. We strengthen our national security and global stability and we create good jobs that support families,” Arati Prabhakar, director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said on the call. “That's how we win today.”