The Biden Administration has confirmed that the United States is setting aside billions of dollars for semiconductor-related research and development.

The announcements from both the White House and US Department of Commerce, revealed that more than $5 billion will be invested in a public-private consortium aimed at supporting research and development in advanced computer chips.

The consortium, called the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), will receive funding from the US CHIPS and Science Act, which has already been utilised to provide funding to other businesses, in order to bolster domestic chip production in the United States.

Semiconductor R&D

The Biden Administration had signed into law the $52.7 billion US Chips and Science Act in August 2022, which seeks to encourage chip makers to build more semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the United States.

The US Chips and Science Act competes with Europe’s 43 billion euro European Chip Act, and China’s $40 billion state-backed investment fund – both of which are being used to encourage the building of more chip manufacturing capabilities in their respective locations.

“Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced it expects to invest over $5 billion in semiconductor-related research, development, and workforce needs, including in the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), to advance President Biden’s goals of driving R&D in the United States,” the White House stated.

The announcement included hundreds of millions of dollars of expected investment in the semiconductor workforce; along with specific funding announcements in packaging, metrology, and a CHIPS Manufacturing USA Institute.

The Commerce Department said that the NSTC is the centerpiece of CHIPS for America’s $11 billion research and development (R&D) program. The NSTC will bring together government, industry, labour, customers, suppliers, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, and investors to “accelerate the pace of new innovations from idea to marketplace.”

Skilled workers

The fact that training workers for the chip sector has been recognised, shows the need for chip manufacturers to have access to a skilled workforce.

Last July for example, TSMC confirmed it would delay the start of chip production at its $40 billion Arizona fab until 2025, due to a shortage of skilled labour.

“CHIPS research and development programs are at the core of our greatest innovations and help to find the solutions for the semiconductor industry’s most pressing challenges,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

“With strategic investments in R&D complementing targeted industry incentives, CHIPS for America will not only bring semiconductor manufacturing back to the US – it will keep it here for good,” said Raimondo. “As we create opportunities for good-paying jobs, the workforce initiatives, such as the NSTC Workforce Center of Excellence, will help ensure a diverse, skilled, and prepared workforce across the nation.”

“Because of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, semiconductor manufacturing is coming back in America,” added White House Office of Science and Technology Director Arati Prabhakar. “Now it’s time to make sure we win the future, too. The NSTC is a place where our CHIPS R&D investments will deliver big advances—advances that will open opportunities for the American semiconductor industry, create good-paying jobs, and strengthen our supply chains.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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