NSW’s New Semiconductor Initiative Will Help Boost Everything From Smartphones to Military and Medicine

NSW’s New Semiconductor Initiative Will Help Boost Everything From Smartphones to Military and Medicine
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A new initiative has launched in Sydney that aims to drive sovereign semiconductor capability. In a world still suffering the ramifications of a global chip shortage, this is actually great news.

The new initiative, known as the Semiconductor Sector Service Bureau (S3B), will be tasked with supporting critical local industries such as health, defence and telecommunications. What does that mean? The S3B will provide advice, services and links to the global semiconductor industry to enhance the competitiveness of NSW in this sector by growing the state’s capability, workforce and market connections. Think of S3B as a sort of middleman. S3B will help startups by facilitating relationships with global firms and likeminded companies, as one example.

“From computers and smartphones to military communications and medical devices, semiconductors (also known as ‘chips’) drive the technological devices we use every day and are indispensable to many global supply chains,” NSW Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology Alister Henskens said in a statement.

“The semiconductor industry has been an engine for economic growth over the last 60 years and the S3B represents an enormous opportunity to secure a brighter future for NSW by accelerating our participation in the global semiconductor market.”

S3B will bring together experts from the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, UNSW Sydney, CSIRO and the Australian National Fabrication Facility. It will be led by Dr Nadia Court, who is to be the inaugural Director of the S3B. Dr Court is currently the technical director of the Research and Prototype Foundry at the University of Sydney.

According to NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, each of the institutions forming this consortium are more than qualified to lead the charge. He said each has a long history of innovation within the sector, and they’re all known for working with major global firms, as well as with Australian leaders in semiconductor tech.

He also reckons NSW has a “clear competitive advantage” when it comes to semiconductors, with most Aussie companies already based in the state.

Delivering a speech on Monday to the 35th International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors, Henskens said “there’s never been a more exciting time than now to explore our innovation ecosystem and engage in conversations about semiconductors and quantum technology”.

The S3B is supported by NSW government funding of $4 million over five years through the Emerging Industry Infrastructure Fund, with a further $2 million in cash and in-kind contributions from partner organisations

The S3B will be located at Cicada Innovations within Sydney’s Tech Central Precinct.