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NSW government to set up $4 million semiconductor bureau

The initiative aims to help increase Australia’s participation in the global semiconductor value chain

The New South Wales government is planning to launch a Semiconductor Sector Service Bureau (S3B) to help increase Australia’s participation in the global semiconductor value chain.

The government is offering a grant of up to $4 million (£2 million) to a selected provider to host the S3B for five years, which will be based in Sydney’s Tech Central. 

It will be primarily funded by the government through its Emerging Industry Infrastructure Fund and it is now inviting interested parties to submit an expression of interest by 1 November. Host organisations could include universities, research organisations, public or private companies, partnerships, and not for profit organisations.

Australia’s semiconductor sector’s capabilities were examined in the Australian Semiconductor Sector Study published in December 2020. The report looked at the sector’s capabilities, needs, and opportunities, based on over 100 one-on-one and group interviews with sector leaders. The primary objective was to determine if, where, and how NSW and Australia could increase its participation in the global semiconductor value chain.

One of the primary recommendations of the study was that an S3B should be established. This was to enhance the capability, workforce, market connectedness, and competitiveness of NSW and Australia’s semiconductor sector, as well as to address market frictions and failures that curtail the country’s ability to participate in global semiconductor markets.

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The S3B will focus on providing brokering services to Australian semiconductor fabless design firms, startups and scale-ups, and research organisations and universities to allow them to access semiconductor fabrication, packaging and test facilities globally.

It will also provide market intelligence and linkages to better guide the sector and foster a more connected semiconductor ecosystem in the country.

The S3B is expected to be operated by at least four full-time employees and led by a director. It will be governed by an independent board made up of representatives from industry, research organisations, and government. The board is also expected to include members with experience and relationships in the international semiconductor sector, including in major supply chain geographies like the US, Europe, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and China.

A number of countries have been analysing the semiconductor sector amid a global chip shortage, with Japan aiming to lure semiconductor makers with financial incentives in June. As Japan imports over 60% of its semiconductors from overseas, mainly from Taiwan and China, there were concerns that tense global relationships could affect the supply chain in the future.

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