New Assessment Identifies Opportunities for Strengthening India’s Role in Semiconductor Ecosystem

Thursday, Jun 22, 2023, 3:45pm

by Semiconductor Industry Association

SIA has long supported efforts to strengthen U.S.-India collaboration in the semiconductor supply chain. A new initial assessment—commissioned by SIA and the India Electronics Semiconductor Association (IESA) and authored by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)—finds that India brings significant strengths to the semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem.

The U.S. and India ramped up cooperation in the semiconductor ecosystem in January, with an agreement to expand strategic technology partnerships and defense industrial cooperation between the nations’ businesses, academic institutions, and government agencies. As part of this effort, called the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET), SIA and IESA agreed to undertake a “readiness assessment” to identify near-term industry opportunities and facilitate the longer-term strategic development of the nations’ complementary semiconductor ecosystems. SIA and IESA commissioned ITIF, a Washington-based science and technology policy think tank, to author this assessment, and in May 2023 an ITIF representative undertook a fact-finding trip to India for this purpose. ITIF today released the executive summary of the assessment, on the occasion of Prime Minister Modi’s state visit to Washington, DC.

India and the United States have an opportunity to learn from one another as they seek to strengthen the competitiveness of their semiconductor sectors and deepen their partnerships in global semiconductor supply chains. To this end:

  • The U.S. CHIPS Program Office at the Department of Commerce should invite their Indian counterparts from the India Semiconductor Mission for a capacity-building trip to Washington and explore avenues to jointly collaborate on strengthening their respective sectors.
  • The U.S. CHIPS and Science Act included $500 million for a CHIPS for America International Technology Security and Innovation Fund. A significant share of these funds should be allocated to partnerships with Indian stakeholders (and possibly simultaneously other Quad-nation partners). For instance, to support both design and foundry interests, a joint foundry could be set up to validate innovative chip designs. Collaboration need not be restricted to silicon activities but can also support early research toward product development.
  • Part of that funding could be used for India and the United States to work together to stand up a world-class R&D Center and testing facility for the development of embedded systems and semiconductor products. Electronic Manufacturing Centers (EMCs) could be set up as Centers of Excellence in manufacturing. As many as 25 EMCs could be established with as little as $3 million in funding.
  • The two countries should collaborate to develop a heat map (i.e., a comprehensive cross-country semiconductor supply value chain map) to support a robust and resilient semiconductor ecosystem.
  • Similarly, India will be a key supplier of talent and know-how to produce the scientists, engineers, and technicians that will be needed as workforces are expanded and trained to accommodate the desired growing semiconductor activity in both nations. Recently, in May 2023, the Union Minister of Electronics and IT, Ashwini Vaishnaw, on behalf of the Indian Semiconductor Mission, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Purdue University for capacity building, research and development, and industry participation.
  • India and the United States should collaborate on talent development. The $200 million CHIPS for America Workforce Education fund will create opportunities for joint curriculum development, student exchanges at the Masters and Ph.D. levels in relevant engineering fields, and possibly new pathways for the circulation of students—and even workers—between the two nations in this critical sector. Further, workforce development initiatives should also look into the skilled trades (such as construction), as such workers will be key to building and operating semiconductor fabs.
  • Finally, in May 2023, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Indian government signed an Implementation Arrangement on research cooperation that will allow investigators from both countries to collaborate to write a single proposal that will undergo a single review process at NSF. This should create a new pathway for expanding microelectronics research activity between U.S. and Indian collaborators.

ITIF’s final report will explore all these topics in greater detail and will be delivered this fall.

SIA looks forward to continued engagement and partnership with the governments of the U.S. and India as they craft a policy framework for collaboration in the semiconductor ecosystem.