The U.S. Department of Defense has announced a slew of states are set to split $238 million in funding from the “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act.”
The funds will be divvied up among eight Microelectronics Commons “regional innovation hubs.” This marks the largest allocation yet under Biden’s CHIPS and Science Act.
At the helm of the effort is Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks who says the initiative is designed to accelerate the transition from lab-based research and development (R&D) to full-scale production of microelectronic technologies.
Sites selected include:
- Northeast Microelectronics Coalition (NEMC) Hub, led by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, received $19.7 million and consists of 90 hub members.
- Silicon Crossroads Microelectronics Commons (SCMC) Hub, led by The Applied Research Institute in Indiana, received $32.9 million and has 130 members.
- California Defense Ready Electronics and Microdevices Superhub (California DREAMS), led by the University of Southern California, received $26.9 million with 16 members.
- Commercial Leap Ahead for Wide Bandgap Semiconductors (CLAWS) Hub, led by North Carolina State University, received $39.4 million and includes 7 members.
- Southwest Advanced Prototyping (SWAP) Hub, led by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of Arizona State University, received $39.8 million and has 27 members.
- Midwest Microelectronics Consortium (MMEC) Hub in Ohio received $24.3 million and has 65 members.
- Northeast Regional Defense Technology Hub (NORDTECH), led by The Research Foundation for the State University of New York, received $40 million with 51 members.
- California-Pacific-Northwest AI Hardware Hub (Northwest-AI Hub), led by Stanford University, received $15.3 million and has 44 members.
Over 360 organizations from over 30 states will participate.
The Microelectronics Commons program has $2 billion allocated for FY 2023-2027, focusing on six technology areas, apparently pulled directly from the Gartner Hype Cycle, including: Secure Edge/IoT Computing, 5G/6G, AI Hardware, Quantum Technology, Electromagnetic Warfare, and Commercial Leap Ahead Technologies.
Each hub aims to become self-sufficient within five years and is expected to contribute to the U.S. Department of Defense’s mission-critical technologies.
The $238 million funding allocation through the CHIPS and Science Act signals a focused effort by the U.S. government to bolster domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research.
With specific aims to bridge the gap between lab-based R&D and large-scale production, the Microelectronics Commons program could play a key role in mitigating supply chain risks. This comes at a time when semiconductors are critical to various industries, from defense to consumer electronics. The program’s emphasis on becoming self-sufficient within five years also points to a long-term investment in building U.S. capabilities in microelectronics.
Several states that have received awards for the Microelectronics Commons hubs have highlighted the potential for job creation as a result of the funding. However, these jobs are likely to require specialized skills in fields such as semiconductor research, engineering, and advanced manufacturing.
The hubs are also tasked with developing educational pipelines and retraining initiatives, indicating that the aim is to cultivate a highly skilled workforce to support the specialized needs of microelectronics development and production.
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