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.
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.
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 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.
The CHIPS and Science Act is one of the most significant pieces of science legislation in years. With $180 billion for research and development over the next five years, it aims to bolster the semiconductor industry as well as federal science agencies like the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. But now comes what many observers view as the hardest part: not only must the money be appropriated, but the act must be implemented in a way that meets its many objectives. In the journal Issues in Science and Technology, several experts explore the ways the CHIPS and Science Act can deliver on its promises to spur innovation, strengthen regional economies and workforce, and promote US competitiveness. In addition, there will be a webinar on November 1st at 3 p.m. where these experts discuss how implementation of this important legislation can best meet—and balance—its many goals.
Arch Street is very pleased to announce that we are working with FYI Science Policy News to produce content for their regular bulletins on science and technology policy. FYI is the the editorially independent science policy news service from the American Institute of Physics and is considered the go-to source on science policy information and topical updates. Arch Street’s first bulletin onRegional Innovation Provisions in the CHIPS and Science Act is now live. Special thanks to Mitch Ambrose and Will Thomas of AIP for their encouragement and support.