On 28 Feb, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced its first solicitation of proposals for funding authorized by the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, passed by Congress in 2022. The Act delegates responsibility to the Department of Commerce and NIST to administer $50 billion in direct funding and loans to revitalize the U.S. semiconductor industry, including $39 billion to fund semiconductor infrastructure investments.
“The CHIPS and Science Act presents a historic opportunity to unleash the next generation of American innovation, protect our national security and preserve our global economic competitiveness,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “When we have finished implementing CHIPS for America, we will be the premier destination in the world where new leading-edge chip architectures can be invented in our research labs, designed for every end-use application, manufactured at scale and packaged with the most advanced technologies. Throughout our work, we are committed to protecting taxpayer dollars, strengthening America’s workforce and giving America’s businesses a platform to do what they do best: innovate, scale and compete.”
The first funding announcement seeks applications for projects to construct, expand or modernize commercial facilities for the production of leading-edge, current generation and mature-node semiconductors, and covers both front-end wafer fabrication and back-end packaging. A second call for proposals is planned for late Spring with a focus on semiconductor materials and equipment. A call for R&D-related facilities funding is expected this fall.
The announcement also details the application process and evaluation criteria, including a primary focus on how projects advance U.S. economic and national security. Applications will also be evaluated for commercial viability, financial strength, technical feasibility and readiness, workforce development, and efforts to spur inclusive economic growth.
The Commerce Department is requesting that all potential applicants, including those interested in the future planned announcements, to submit statements of interest to help them gauge interest across the semiconductor ecosystem and begin preparing for application review.
NIST also released a “Vision for Success,” laying out strategic objectives for the Chips for America semiconductor initiative. To advance U.S. economic and national security, the Commerce Department plans to (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.
To review the announcement and proposal instructions, see: https://www.nist.gov/chips/notice-funding-opportunity-commercial-fabrication-facilities
To read the Chips for America Initiative’s Vision for Success, go to: https://www.nist.gov/system/files/documents/2023/02/28/Vision_for_Success-Commercial_Fabrication_Facilities.pdf
For related information, see the NIST press release at: https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2023/02/biden-harris-administration-launches-first-chips-america-funding