Australia’s Semiconductor Capability Takes a Quantum Leap

New South Wales (NSW) will soon be home to a new initiative designed to drive sovereign semiconductor capability in support of local critical industries including health, defence, and telecommunications.

The Semiconductor Sector Service Bureau (S3B) will bring together leading experts from the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, UNSW Sydney, Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, and the Australian National Fabrication Facility.

Announced on Monday 27 June at the International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors 2022, the NSW Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology, Alister Henskens, said the semiconductor sector had been identified as a local strength in the recently released NSW 20-Year R&D Roadmap, presenting a golden opportunity to grow the economy.

“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,” said Minister Henskens.

Connectivity, collaboration & commercialisation

Funded by the NSW Government, the $6 million S3B will be established at Sydney’s tech incubator, Cicada Innovations. S3B is expected to foster connectivity and collaboration, and support commercialisation.

S3B will provide brokering services for local firms, enabling access to semiconductor facilities globally and connecting companies and researchers with design and manufacturing capabilities globally. S3B will focus on developing the skills of the local industry, providing semiconductor design micro-credential courses.

Semiconductor And Electronics Manufacturing

While S3B will focus on collaboration, skills and connectivity, the newly announced Advanced Manufacturing Research Facility in Bradfield in Sydney’s west will provide facilities for advanced semiconductor and electronics manufacturing. This $260 million facility is expected to be operational by 2026.

Australia has capacity and competitive advantage in quantum research. Sydney-based Silicon Quantum Computing recently announced it had engineered the world’s first integrated circuit manufactured at an atomic scale. The breakthrough sparked hopes of a bigger role in changing semiconductor supply chains.

However, when compared with Europe, Australia’s semiconductor sector is comparatively small. There is ample opportunity to grow local manufacturing and capture a larger share of the global supply chain, particularly in the area of design.

S3B will help local manufacturers play a role in global supply chains, creating new jobs and new revenue streams. It will help local manufacturers forge connections in the booming global semiconductor market, which is forecast to be worth US$1 trillion by 2030.