Ajai Chowdhry, co-founder of
and a member of the Indian Semiconductor Mission’s advisory panel, told ET that policy makers have to take note of the obvious lack of local research that bolsters semiconductor manufacturing, a “missing piece” in the country’s $10 billion plan for self-reliance in semiconductors.
“We have design [semiconductor chip design]. And, we have planned for manufacturing and packaging. But what we have not planned for is the technology,” Chowdhry told ET.
At the Niti Aayog meeting, which took place about two months ago, representatives from industry associations and veterans from academia, including IIT-Kanpur’s director Abhay Karandikar took part.
Chowdhry said the R&D center for India could be modeled after establishments elsewhere across technology hubs, such as the Interuniversity Microelectronics Center (IMEC), and similar research hubs in Taiwan and Singapore.
The call for indigenising research comes at a time when officials from the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) traveled to Belgium to visit the IMEC facility.
Discover the stories of your interest
Industry associations aware of the rising pitch for indigenous research in semiconductor technology said the collaboration with IMEC was aimed chiefly at modernizing the Semiconductor Laboratory (SCL) in Mohali, Chandigarh.
“The dialogue with IMEC [on upgrading SCL] is progressing. Even as that is on, there is a parallel effort to have an R&D center in the South,” said K Krishna Moorthy, CEO and president of the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association.
In academia, there is already an effort to set up virtual learning environments to build know-how even as the physical semiconductor and packaging factories take shape.
IIT-Madras Director V Kamakoti said the institute is contemplating virtual fabs for semiconductors and packaging, so that they function as ‘digital twins,’ allowing experimentation and simulations for the real fabs. “IIT Madras is already taking this forward in one sense,” he said.
In December 2021, the Center announced a Rs 76,000 crore incentives package for applicants willing to set up semiconductor chip factories.
The Vedanta-Foxconn joint venture, ISMC Analog – a consortium of Intel-acquired Tower Semiconductor and West Asia-based Next
– and Singapore-based IGSS have committed to building factories in India.
Industry representatives said the approvals for these units should begin rolling out by the end of the current year.