NIST Kicks Off CHIPS Act Programs With Requests for Public Input

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The requests will help the National Institute of Standards and Technology gain guidance from stakeholders on initiatives to help boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology seeks public input on two programs—authorized under the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors, or CHIPS, for America Act—designed to restore American leadership in semiconductor manufacturing as part of the Department of Commerce’s CHIPS for America initiative. 

The initiative includes two components: a financial incentive to encourage investment in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and the creation of collaborative networks for research and innovation. The requests for information were filed on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Chips and semiconductors are important elements for advanced and emerging technology like artificial intelligence and quantum computing, in addition to being components in everyday products like smartphones. 

“It is critically important to our prosperity and national security that we reestablish our leadership role in semiconductor manufacturing,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio said. “To do that, we need a whole-of-nation approach to solving this problem. That’s why we’re asking experts and stakeholders to provide important guidance, as we design these programs for maximum impact while protecting the taxpayer’s investment in our nation’s future.”

The first request for information about the financial incentives program seeks public comment about the design and implementation of the program. This includes input on grants, loans and loan guarantees to help encourage investment in U.S. manufacturing and decrease the nation’s reliance on foreign suppliers. It also seeks information on identifying significant supply chain bottlenecks for fabrication facilities; measuring the effectiveness of efforts to fight cloning, counterfeiting and relabeling of semiconductors; establishing taxpayer protections; and identifying investments that would be effective to promote inclusive growth. Responses are due by Nov. 14.

This RFI comes after a January request on incentives for the program. NIST stated that it will use both requests to inform its decisions. 

The second request seeks public input on the development of up to three Manufacturing USA institutes—a network of entities addressing manufacturing challenges—to improve American leadership in semiconductor manufacturing, via research, education and workforce development. This program will be a public-private partnership examining technology, supply chain, education and workforce development. NIST asked for comment on potential research focus areas like “artificial intelligence for chip design”; the structure and governance of the institutes; plans to drive investment from businesses, academic institutions and other non-federal entities; and how to integrate research and development activities into educational programs to help develop the current and future workforce. Responses are due by Nov. 28. 

The requests come after NIST announced its partnership with Google in September for chip research and development.