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New semiconductor R&D initiative will bolster Purdue's work in sector

By Steve Bittenbender | The Center Square contributor

Indiana announced a new research initiative designed to advance the state as a global leader in semiconductor research and development.

The pact with Imec was unveiled during the SelectUSA Investment Summit, taking place this week just outside of Washington, D.C. According to a release from Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office, the Belgian-based research hub and the West Lafayette-based state university will make significant investments in the joint, trans-Atlantic initiative over the next five years.

Holcomb, in a statement, heralded the deal as another sign of the economic momentum growing in the state.

“Imec is a global leader for research and technological development, and we are proud to partner with them, alongside our top-ranked Purdue University, by formalizing the discussions and collaborations already taking place, facilitating the further exchange of ideas and providing the necessary support to power cutting-edge, next-generation microelectronic R&D in the U.S. with Indiana at the center,” he said.

Last year, President Biden signed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act into law, which provided billions in incentives for semiconductor and microchip manufacturers to locate new facilities in the U.S.

Indiana has already started attracting some development in the sector. Last July, SkyWater Technology announced it would build a $1.8 billion manufacturing plant in a Purdue business park that would create 750 new jobs.

Purdue also has plans to invest $100 million in its own facilities for semiconductor development. Last month the school’s Board of Trustees gave the green light to spend $49 million to enhance the Birck Nanotechnology Center, where Imec researchers will be working side-by-side with Purdue faculty and students in the joint initiative.

Likewise, Purdue students and facility will also have opportunities to work in Belgium as part of the agreement, which the university said had been in the works for more than a year.

“Purdue University and the state of Indiana have become the heart of the silicon heartland,” Purdue University President Mung Chiang said. “Purdue is the most visible and forward-leaning university in the U.S. in the semiconductor degrees program, in research innovation to rewrite the economic equation of on-shoring fabs and packaging, in industry partnership with over 20 leading companies, and in national leadership in CHIPS for America’s execution.”

Luc Van den hove, Imec’s CEO, said the agreement allows his organization to work with “a world-class American research university” in a vital sector.

“This collaboration between these two R&D powerhouses from the U.S. and Europe underscores my strong conviction that international collaboration in semiconductor research and development is imperative for expediting progress by building on our strengths and innovating faster together,” Van den hove said.

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