The Department of Commerce has released new application materials and other resources for the first CHIPS for America funding opportunity for various types of semiconductor fabrication facilities. Commerce has also posted full application materials for applicants seeking incentives for leading-edge facilities.
The Department is asking applicants to submit detailed applications so that it has all the information it needs to evaluate applications and plan awards across the semiconductor ecosystem. This will include financial models that will help reviewers evaluate the commercial viability and financial strength of projects and ensure the application is emphasizing important program priorities such as activating third party capital and customer commitments.
On Thursday, March 9, the White House released the President’s budget outline for 2024, also known as the “skinny budget”. The outline contains general top line information about science and technology budgets including funding authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act. CHIPS and Science programs are set to receive $6.5 billion above FY 2023, a 26 percent increase under the President’s Plan but well short of the targets set in the CHIPS and Science legislation.
CHIPS and Science funding highlights include: $11.3 billion for NSF, $8.8 billion for DOE’s Office of Science, $1 billion for NIST, part of the Department of Commerce, and $4 billion for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), also part of Commerce.
The total for NSF includes $1.2 billion for activities under the new Technology, Innovation and Partnerships Directorate, including $300 million for new NSF Engines Regional Innovation Centers — a 43 percent increase.
More details are expected to be released on Monday, March 12 with the full version of the President’s FY 2024 Budget Plan.
The Biden administration announced the release of first CHIPS for America funding opportunity for semiconductor manufacturing incentives. Administered by National Institute of Standards and Technology within the Department of Commerce, the CHIPS for America program was established by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.
The vision statement sets out four major goals for the CHIPS program by the end of decade: 1. make the U.S. home to at least two, new large-scale clusters of leading-edge logic chip fabs, 2. make the U.S. home to multiple, high-volume advanced packaging facilities, 3. produce high-volume leading-edge memory chips, and 4. increase production capacity for current-generation and mature-node chips, especially for critical domestic industries.
The funding opportunity is the first in a series to be released under the CHIPS program. According to a new release by the administration, Commerce will release a funding opportunity for semiconductor materials and equipment facilities in the late spring of 2023, and one for research and development facilities in the fall.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning with leading-edge facilities with applicants able to submit optional pre-applications starting immediately and full applications starting March 31, 2023. For current-generation, mature-node, and back-end production facilities, pre-applications will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning May 1, 2023, and full applications will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning June 26, 2023. While optional, pre-applications are recommended according the Department.
Key Department of Defense (DoD) research offices have released their funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) program for the fiscal year 2024. All of the FOA’s can be accessed through Grants.gov
The National Science Foundation has launched a new effort aimed at building capacity and infrastructure for translational research at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education. The Accelerating Research Translation (ART) spans all directorates and disciplines supported by the Foundation and is targeted at universities that do not have a high level of translational research as measured by indicators such as patents, invention disclosures, licenses and other metrics.
According to the NSF, the program seeks to: 1) strengthen the institutional infrastructure to support and grow research translation, 2) fund educational/training opportunities for graduate students to become entrepreneurs and/or seek use-inspired and/or translational research-oriented careers and, 3) support “translational research activities that offer immediate opportunities for transition to practice to create economic and/or societal impact.”
It is the intention of NSF that successful awardees will form a nationwide network of ‘ART Ambassadors’ who will champion the cause of translational research both within their own school and among their peers at other academic institutions. Individuals serving as ART Ambassadors can include graduate students, senior administrators as well as university staff within tech transfer offices.
The base budget for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) rose 16% for fiscal year 2023 to $1.24 billion not including earmarked or one-time supplemental spending. NIST has been a priority for the Biden Administration which had proposed a very large increase (38%) aimed at bolstering the American manufacturing sector.
Separately, the agency is also administering billions of dollars the CHIPS and Science Act has provided for semiconductor manufacturing and R&D initiatives.
The Department of Energy aims to strengthen place-based innovation activities by leveraging DOE national laboratories, plants, and sites for the benefit of the American people.
Consistent with provisions of last year’s CHIPS and Science Act, DOE is gathering input on how initiatives that promote and strengthen regional ecosystems can power the next wave of American innovation and economic prosperity by leveraging its national laboratory system.
Led by the DOE Office of Technology Transitions and the Office of Science, the Department has released a formal Request for Information (RFI) soliciting ideas on:
Accelerating commercialization of breakthrough technologies
Driving development in the industrial and technology sectors of the future, such as innovations in advanced manufacturing, and supply chains, among others
Fostering sustainable and equitable economic growth in underinvested regions of the United States
Creating long-term high paying jobs in existing and new industries
Facilitating engagement and partnership with local and regional communities
Training and educating both the current and future diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce.
According to DOE, innovation ecosystems anchored around DOE national laboratories, plants, and sites can directly support DOE’s missions, including advancing new and emerging clean energy technologies, combatting the effects of climate change, developing technologies to support our nation’s security, the cleaning up of legacy nuclear waste, and building a technically skilled workforce.
The National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) Task Force released its final report [pdf], a roadmap for standing up a national research infrastructure that would broaden access to the resources essential to artificial intelligence (AI) research and development.
While AI research and development (R&D) in the United States is advancing rapidly, opportunities to pursue cutting-edge AI research and new AI applications are often inaccessible to researchers beyond those at well-resourced companies, organizations, and academic institutions. A NAIRR would change that by providing AI researchers and students with significantly expanded access to computational resources, high-quality data, educational tools, and user support—fueling greater innovation and advancing AI that serves the public good.
Established by the National AI Initiative Act of 2020, the NAIRR Task Force is a federal advisory committee. Co-chaired by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Task Force has equal representation from government, academia, and private organizations. Following its launch in June 2021, the Task Force embarked on a rigorous, open process that culminated in this final report. This process included 11 public meetings and two formal requests for information to gather public input.
The CHIPS and Science Act created several new initiatives within the Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships that the National Science Foundation created early this year. This includes establishing priority technology focus areas and authorizing new programs supporting technology commercialization, regional innovation, and workforce development.
The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced new guidance on November 16, 2022 regarding the formation of the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), authorized under the Chips and Science Act passed in August.
It is expected that guidance on requests for proposals will be issued in the first quarter of 2023 along with a white paper summary of analysis and evaluation of stakeholder recommendations currently underway at DOC.
According to the announcement, Commerce is engaged in four primary tasks:
Evaluating potential gaps in research and engineering that could be filled by the NSTC, ensuring that the new Center will complement the many excellent centers already established by industry, academia, allies, and other governmental agencies. The Department will create a preliminary landscape analysis with the benefit of recommendations developed by the CHIPS Industrial Advisory Committee. Ultimately, the NSTC itself will finalize the focus areas, but this early work will inform further decisions.
Evaluating and defining a structure and governance model that fulfills the CHIPS for America goals of promoting U.S. economic and national security and protecting taxpayer investments while ensuring technical excellence and leadership.
Creating a preliminary operating, business, and financial model that will serve as a road map for near-term investment informed by an understanding of what will be required for long-term sustainability.
Identifying a slate of candidates for the NSTC chief executive.