Scientific Research is a Team Sport

Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013, 12:00pm

by Semiconductor Industry Association

For generations, leading edge scientific research has been a key to America’s strength and prosperity, unlocking new technologies that have helped keep the U.S. at the forefront of innovation. The great inventions of the last 60 years – including the Internet, the Global Positioning System (GPS), the laser, and the large-scale integrated circuit – were discovered thanks largely to effective research collaborations between government, industry and universities.

Today, with increasingly fierce competition for global technology leadership, it’s critical that research collaborations be maintained and strengthened, not undermined.

The U.S. semiconductor industry has a longstanding tradition of partnering with government and universities to establish effective research programs. In the 1980s, the industry teamed with government to create SEMATECH, which sponsors advanced semiconductor manufacturing research and is now recognized by many as the ideal model of public-private collaboration.

The industry also helps fund cutting edge university research through the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the world’s leading university research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies. SRC has launched hugely successful government-industry-university research partnerships – the Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research network (STARnet) and the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) – that are unmatched in size and scope by programs in other industries.

During a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) conference yesterday in Dallas, SIA Board Member Rich Templeton – chairman, president and CEO of Texas Instruments – highlighted the critical role of scientific research in driving America’s global leadership and competitiveness, as well as the importance of public-private research partnerships. He also stressed our country’s need to increase the number of talented professionals in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields through improved K-12 education, stable funding for graduate research, and high-skilled immigration reform. [Listen to Rich’s remarks]

The conference, which was hosted by the University of Texas System at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, was part of a nationwide rollout of a recent NAS report titled Research Universities and the Future of America, which outlines 10 recommended actions to strengthen America’s research programs.

TI and other SIA members are not only vocal advocates for research investments; they are also investors themselves. In fact, in 2012, U.S. semiconductor companies invested 22 percent of total sales revenue in R&D – one of the highest rates of any industry.

The semiconductor industry has consistently prioritized R&D – even during difficult economic times and throughout fluctuations in sales revenue – because chip designers and manufacturers know that these investments will pay off down the road. The federal government should maintain its share of the partnership and fund scientific research at sustainable levels.