New Survey:  Semiconductor Market Hampered by Demand/Supply Mismatch, Lack of Manufacturing Capacity

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) released the results of a request for information (RFI) seeking data on the state of the semiconductor supply chain.

The DoC confirmed that there is a significant, persistent mismatch in supply and demand for chips, and survey respondents did not see the problem going away in the next six months. Median demand for the chips highlighted by the buyers who responded to the RFI was as much as 17% higher in 2021 than in 2019, and buyers aren’t seeing commensurate increases in the supply they receive.

The main bottleneck identified is the need for additional manufacturing or fab capacity. In addition, companies identified material and assembly, test, and packaging capacity as bottlenecks.

The RFI received more than 150 responses, including from nearly every major semiconductor producer and from companies in multiple consuming industries.

Other findings include:

  • The median inventory of semiconductor products highlighted by buyers has fallen from 40 days in 2019 to less than 5 days in 2021 (see Figure 2). These inventories are even smaller in key industries.
  • The RFI allowed us to pinpoint specific nodes where the supply and demand mismatch is most acute, and we will target our efforts moving forward on collaborating with industry to resolve bottlenecks in these nodes.
  • The primary bottleneck across the board appears to be wafer production capacity, which requires a longer-term solution.

DoC urged passage of semiconductor legislation pending in Congress — the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) including $52 billion in funding to support domestic chip manufacturing.  That legislation remains stalled due to disagreements between the House and the Senate as well as a slowdown in annual appropriations across all agencies.

Industrial Policy — Can the U.S. Find Consensus, Consistency?

U.S. industrial and attendant technology policy has a long and tortured existence often rising and falling in a decadal threat cycle: communism in the 50’s/60’s, oil shocks in the 1970’s, and the rise of Japan in the 1980’s. For many years starting in the 1990’s, the term “industrial policy” was considered verboten, off-limits in policy circles especially among free-market Republicans who preferred to let market forces drive technology investments. This led to a whip-saw effect, U.S. technology initiatives would flourish in times of threat, then languish and die as the U.S. defaulted to market forces alone. Unfortunately, while market forces are highly efficient and effective in picking winners and losers, this process has left the U.S. vulnerable, as the market for critical technologies (and their attendant supply chains) globalized.

With these shifts becoming apparent in the past few years, Robert Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is out today with a new white paper on Strategic Industrial Policy. Because of an increasing reliance on sophisticated globally-sourced dual-use technologies such as semiconductors, Atkinson argues that the United States should adopt what he terms a Strategic-Industrial Policy. In the white paper, Atkinson attempts to refute the standard arguments against industrial policy — picking winners and losers, focus on high profile failures, politicization risks — while arguing that the threat from China to both U.S. economic and national security demands a new approach to U.S. industrial policy.

AFRL Information Directorate to Hold “Ask Me Anything” Session on Upcoming BAA

The Air Force Research Laboratory — Information Directorate (AFRL-RI) will hold a virtual “Ask Me Anything” informational session the upcoming AFRL-RI Broad Area Announcement on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

Session attendees will receive an overview of ten BAA topics in pre-release on Wednesday, December 1, an outline of the timeline for proposal submission, and the funding opportunities. Participants will have a chance to ask questions and have them answered live by the topic authors, technical professionals, and a representative of the U.S. Air Force SBIR/STTR office.

Click here to register

Webinar: IBM’s Discovery Accelerator Partnerships

On December 9, 2021 at 1:00 EST, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine – Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable will convene a webinar to discuss the strategic goals and impact of IBM’s Discovery Accelerator Partnerships. Within the last year, IBM announced two significant partnerships that will deploy emerging technologies and advanced capabilities aimed at driving scientific discovery – the first, a ten-year partnership with Cleveland Clinic focused on discoveries in life sciences and healthcare; and the second, a five-year partnership with the United Kingdom’s Science and Technology Facilities Council, based at the Hartree National Center for Digital Innovation, which will drive innovations in life sciences, new materials development, environmental sustainability, and advanced manufacturing.

During this webinar, IBM officials discuss the Discovery Accelerator approach to partnership, collaborative and interdisciplinary research, and the application of emerging computing technologies to supercharge the pace of scientific discovery.

Click here to register

Communicating the Value and Impact of Technology Transfer

The Technology Transfer Society, DC Chapter will be holding an online presentation on how to better communicate the value and impact of technology transfer. A recent article in Issues in Science & Technology entitled Settling for Second Place? by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine and former NSF Directorate Dr. Neal Lane sounded the alarm that America’s world leadership in science and technology is being challenged like never before.

While many focus on basic and applied research investments, technology transfer and commercialization activities — bridging the technology ‘valley of death’ from scientific discovery to commercial product — have become pivotal to capturing the value of R&D at universities, national laboratories and industry labs. Unfortunately, tech transfer efforts are often misunderstood and poorly resourced at many major S&T institutions. The presentation will address how to better communicate the value of these functions to key decisionmakers to help them better understand the growing value of technology transfer beyond patent licensing.

GAO Study: Quantum Computing and Communications

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently conducted a study on the future of quantum computing and communications. The authors noted that while some quantum technologies are available for limited uses today, it will likely take at least a decade and cost billions to develop quantum technologies for more complex uses. As part of its assessment, GAO looked at (1) the availability of quantum computing and communications technologies and how they work, (2) potential future applications of such technologies and benefits and drawbacks from their development and use, and (3) factors that could affect technology development and policy options available to help address those factors, enhance benefits, or mitigate drawbacks.

GAO identified four factors that affect quantum technology development and use: (1) collaboration, (2) workforce size and skill, (3) investment, and (4) the supply chain. The study found that the United States led the world in the number of scientific and technical papers in quantum computing with China a close second. China leads in the production of papers in quantum communications.

The full GAO study can be found here.

Tech Transfer Presentation: The Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program

Washington Area Chapter of the Technology Transfer Society (T2SDC) will be hosting an online presentation on the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 from Noon to 1 p.m..

The Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program leverages the resources of the University System of Maryland (USM) to help create new products and services that feed the growth of Maryland businesses. Since the program’s inception in 1987, MIPS–enabled products have generated sales of $42 billion.

MIPS provides funding, matched by participating companies, for university-based research projects that help the companies develop new products. The program is administered at the flagship campus at the University of Maryland, College Park, and works throughout the 12 member institutions of the University System of Maryland, plus Morgan State University and St. Mary’s College. In these academic-industrial, public-private partnerships, MIPS connects the resources of the Maryland public universities to businesses from all parts of Maryland.

Presenting will be Joseph Naft, Director of the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program of the University of Maryland (UMD).

To register, please go use the following link.

Software Bill of Materials Minimum Elements Defined by NTIA

The President’s recent cybersecurity Executive Order (14028) directed the Department of Commerce, in coordination with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to publish the “minimum elements” for a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM). See: .PDF iconThe Minimum Elements For a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) This report builds on the work of NTIA’s SBOM multistakeholder process, as well as the responses to a request for comments issued in June, 2021, and extensive consultation with other Federal experts. 

An SBOM is a formal record containing the details and supply chain relationships of various components used in building software. In addition to establishing minimum elements, this report defines the scope of how to think about minimum elements, describes SBOM use cases for greater transparency in the software supply chain, and lays out options for future evolution

The minimum elements as defined in the report are the essential pieces that support basic SBOM functionality and will serve as the foundation for an evolving approach to software transparency. These minimum elements comprise three broad, interrelated areas.

  1. Data Fields: Documenting baseline information about each component that should be tracked
  2. Automation Support: Allowing for scaling across the software ecosystem through automatic generation and machine-readability
  3. Practices and Processes: Defining the operations of SBOM requests, generation and use

SBOM minimum elements will enable basic use cases, such as management of vulnerabilities, software inventory, and licenses. The report also looks at recommended SBOM features and advances that go beyond the minimum elements, including key security features and tracking more detailed supply chain data.

Arch Street on NSF Funding, Senate Tech Legislation

Tim Clancy, President of Arch Street was quoted in the June 3 edition of Chemical and Engineering News on potential new funding for the National Science Foundation and a proposed new NSF technology directorate as envisioned by the US Innovation and Competition Act (S.1260), previously the Endless Frontier Act.

The new legislation and a companion House bill would expand NSF funding of advanced technology and development and push the agency to adopt a “strong program manager” funding model utilized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This would be significant shift of philosophy for the NSF which has focused on basic, fundamental research selected through rigorous peer review with program managers playing a facilitating role. In the NSF budget request for Fiscal Year 2022, the Biden Administration has proposed the creation of a new NSF technology directorate as well as additional funding for regional innovation activities focused on critical technologies such as advanced manufacturing and semiconductors.