Natcast/NSTC Issues Roadmap to Implement CHIPS and Science Act

By John Russell

May 29, 2024

Yesterday, CHIPS for America and Natcast, the operator of the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), released a roadmap of early steps for implementing portions of the ambitious $5 billion program. Natcast is the non-profit entity created to operate the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) consortium.

Here’s an excerpt from the just-released roadmap:

“In February 2024, the Biden-Harris Administration announced it expects to invest over $5 billion in the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) to advance President Biden’s goals of driving innovation in the United States. As part of the implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act and the President’s Investing in America agenda, these investments sustain and advance U.S. leadership in semiconductor R&D, cut down on the time and cost of commercializing new technologies, bolster U.S. national and economic security, and connect and support workers in securing good-paying semiconductor jobs.

“A historic and long-lasting investment, the NSTC is one of CHIPS for America’s Research and Development (R&D) programs. As a public-private consortium, the NSTC is where members will have access to an investment fund, facilities, partners, and additional funding opportunities to research, test, and scale-up semiconductor technologies and workforce activities. The NSTC shall be a thriving semiconductor research center that shall serve as an engine of innovation for decades to come.”

The roadmap highlights some of the top priorities of the NSTC, including, facilities, workforce, initial R&D funding opportunities, and membership. Netcast reports 240+ entities have already signed up, including: industry and industry associations; government agencies, labs, consortia, academia; investors and incubators; workforce organizations and labor unions; non-technical organizations and service providers.

Deirdre Hanford, Natcast CEO

The Natcast leadership team is largely made up of executives drawn feom the chip industry. Deirdre Hanford, a Synopsis exec, was named CEO and member of the board of trustees, in January. Former Intel CEO and chairman Craig Barrett and Nicholas Donofrio, former IBM exec, are also on the board. (Link to leadership team, https://natcast.org/leadership).

The CHIPS for America Research and Development (R&D) Office and Natcast will host a webinar to discuss the NSTC Roadmap, on Friday (noon ET) to discuss the roadmap, preview feedback from Natcast’s RFI on  Prototyping Capabilities and Facilities, provide additional details about the initial R&D projects announced in April and on workforce development and membership. Register For Webinar

Below are a few more details taken from the Roadmap.

Announcing the NSTC Facilities Model and Selection Process – Summer 2024

The NSTC and its facilities will benefit the whole country by boosting research and innovation that is unique in scale, breadth, and focus. As with all of the NSTC priorities, the consideration of facilities is driven by stakeholder engagement. In March 2024, Natcast released a Request for Information (RFI) to gather community input on use cases for facilities and capabilities, and to gauge market demand. RFI responses will help inform the requirements for potential NSTC facilities. An announcement will be made about the facility model and selection process in Summer 2024.

Launching Workforce Center of Excellence – Summer 2024

The Department of Commerce expects to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the NSTC’s workforce efforts, including the creation of a Workforce Center of Excellence to support efforts across the country. The Center of Excellence will ensure students and workers at all stages of life have access to education and training for good-paying jobs in the semiconductor industry. Among others, activities will include:

  • Building a community of stakeholders and enabling resource sharing among employers, educational institutions, and training providers, including community and technical colleges, workforce development boards, universities, labor organizations, research organizations and registered apprenticeship programs.
  • Using research and data to identify and promote innovative solutions, guide future investments, and inform the development of capacity-building initiatives.
  • Piloting new efforts and scaling effective and equitable education and workforce development programs, including initiatives to engage students, educators, and underserved communities. We expect to launch the Workforce Center of Excellence in Summer 2024.

Releasing NSTC Initial R&D Funding Opportunities – Summer 2024

The NSTC has identified initial R&D programs which will kick start the process of delivering impactful results through early investments in projects with a near term time horizon. Approximately $100 million will be available to fund the first set of external teams. The first two topics selected are AI-based Radio Frequency (RF) Design and Test Vehicles. In selecting initial R&D topics, CHIPS and Natcast prioritized short duration, high impact topics that will engage multiple parts of the semiconductor ecosystem including government, industry, entrepreneurs, and more. Funding competitions for these projects is expected to launch in early summer 2024 with a second competition expected to be released later in the summer.

Opening Membership – Fall 2024 T

To directly address the needs of the semiconductor ecosystem, the NSTC is purpose built and member driven. Interested parties can join the Community of Interest, a zero-cost, premembership program, for interested stakeholders to provide input into the anticipated membership structure and program offerings of the NSTC.  240+ entities have signed up, including: industry and industry associations; government agencies, labs, consortia, academia; investors and incubators; workforce organizations and labor unions; non-technical organizations and service providers

Future members may include industry, industry associations, academia, workforce organizations, federal, state & local governments, labor unions, and think tanks and research consortiums. A membership structure for the NSTC is expected to be announced in Summer 2024 and open for applications by Fall 2024. For more information sign up for email updates: https://natcast.org/ and email [email protected] for general inquiries

Link to NSTC roadmap, https://www.nist.gov/system/files/documents/2024/05/24/NSTC%20Roadmap_FINAL.pdf

Link to Natcast, https://natcast.org/

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