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CHIPS Program Updates for NextFlex Members

By Dr. Scott Miller, Director of Technology, and Dr. Art Wall, Director of Fab and Engineering Operations

It seems like many of the activities and meetings associated with the various parts of the CHIPS Program slowed down over the summer of 2023, but that is changing rapidly as we enter the fall. Recently there have been two announcements that may be of interest to a number of NextFlex members.

First, the DoD Microelectronic Commons, or ME Commons, announced the award of 8 regional hubs, details of which can be found here. More information on ME Commons overall is available here. The specific awardee hubs are as follows:

  1. Northeast Microelectronics Coalition (NEMC) Hub
  2. Silicon Crossroads Microelectronics Commons (SCMC) Hub
  3. California Defense Ready Electronics and Microdevices Superhub (California DREAMS) Hub
  4. Commercial Leap Ahead for Wide Bandgap Semiconductors (CLAWS) Hub
  5. Southwest Advanced Prototyping (SWAP) Hub
  6. Midwest Microelectronics Consortium (MMEC) Hub
  7. Northeast Regional Defense Technology Hub (NORDTECH)
  8. California-Pacific-Northwest AI Hardware Hub (Northwest-AI Hub)

These eight hubs were selected from among 83 proposals that were submitted, which shows the high level of interest in this program. We would specifically like to congratulate the MassTech Collaborative, our partners that lead the NextFlex Massachusetts Node, who coordinated NEMC Hub proposal that included 8 states and 90 hub members, including NextFlex and many member organizations.

This announcement will be followed by the first annual ME Commons meeting in Washington DC on October 17,18. NextFlex will be in attendance for this meeting where we expect to hear more details on all of the hubs listed above. We also anticipate a Request for Proposals from ME Commons to be available at or around that same time frame. We understand that proposal submissions will be due on a short timeline after the request, so we are working on potential concepts.

The second recent announcement was the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for Small-Scale Supply Chain Projects which can be found here. This is part of the Department of Commerce Incentives program which is aimed at supply chain companies providing semiconductor equipment or materials. These projects are intended to provide 10-30% of the total capital cost for projects less than $300M each. This is the second NOFO under the CHIPS Incentives Program; the first was launched on February 28, aimed at Commercial Fabrication Facilities, and in June updated to include commercial facilities for semiconductor materials and manufacturing equipment with total capital cost greater than $300M. A third CHIPS Incentives NOFO is expected in the coming months, to support construction of semiconductor R&D Facilities.

In the near future, we anticipate a white paper to be published by the CHIPS Office at the Department of Commerce outlining plans for the National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program or NAPMP. There is not a firm date, but our expectation is for it to become available within this calendar year. We expect many of the topics the NextFlex community has identified as areas of interest related to CHIPS and packaging will fall under the scope of the NAPMP, so we are following this carefully.

Finally, we anticipate that NIST will move forward with a Request for Proposals for up to three new Manufacturing USA Institutes that are funded by the CHIPS Program. Although timing is still uncertain, this RFP may also issue before the end of the year.

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