NSW government wants to create semiconductor hub focused on design and IP

Acknowledging there are no major Australian players in the global semiconductor industry, the NSW government is hoping a new hub will improve the feasibility of larger scale work in this sector down the road.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

The New South Wales government is looking for an organisation to host a new semiconductor hub that will be dedicated to propping up local companies focused on semiconductor design and IP.

The plan to build a new semiconductor hub comes off the back of a recommendation by the state's Chief Scientist and Engineer Office after it conducted a study into the country's semiconductor scene. In the study, Sydney Nano Institute deputy director James Rabeau said there are currently no major Australian companies whose core business is in semiconductor design or development.

With the semiconductor industry in Australia being quite limited, a government representative clarified that the goal behind creating the semiconductor hub was not to create a new major semiconductor fab as there are "significant capital and non-capital barriers in Australia".

"Rather, [the hub] is focused on supporting existing NSW and Australian semiconductor companies (especially in semiconductor design and IP, but also fabrication and assembly) to scale locally and better connect to and compete in international supply chains," the government representative said in an emailed statement.

The hub, to be called the Semiconductor Sector Service Bureau (S3B), will be based in Sydney's Tech Central and be funded by the state government.

Outside of funding, the state government will be represented on S3B's board, but the responsibility of establishing and running the hub will lie with the host organisation.

In the government's expression of interest for an organisation or consortium to run a semiconductor hub, it said the host would provide four main functions. These are providing brokering services, creating semiconductor micro-credential courses, providing semiconductor market intelligence capability, and creating a more connected and market-aware semiconductor ecosystem.

The performance indicators for these functions are yet to be finalised, with the details to be nutted out in a contract with the successful host organisation, the government said.

The state government started the search on Tuesday, and is accepting expressions of interests from organisations until the end of this month.

On Monday, founder of employment services provider Ingeus, Therese Rein, asked why Australia could not manufacture chips.

"We have a lot of sand," Rein said after posting the question. "We can be part of the solution for the global semiconductor shortage with its impact on everything from manufacturing to an edge in science and innovation."

Sydney's Tech Central has so far locked in the country's AtlassianNEC, and NTT, and the country's National Space Industry Hub as tenants. The precinct is expected to be completed sometime in 2025.

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