A $6 million semiconductor bureau to be established in central Sydney will provide local companies with services and connections into the booming global market as part of a state government push to grow capability.
The New South Wales government on Monday named a consortium of organisations to support the Semiconductor Sector Service Bureau, to be known as the S3B, and located at Sydney’s deep tech incubator, Cicada Innovations
S3B will be led by inaugural director Dr Nadia Court from the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, with support from experts from the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, UNSW Sydney, CSIRO and the Australian National Fabrication Facility.
The move has been backed by Australia’s chief scientist and follows a recent breakthrough by quantum computing company using silicon in its fabrication, but comes 18 months after the bureau was first recommended as a much needed first step.
NSW Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology Alister Henskens unveiled the S3B funding and hosts at the International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors speech in Sydney on Monday.
“Collaboration between the triple helix of government, our universities and industry experts will be critical in securing the success of the semiconductor industry in New South Wales,” Mr Henskens said.
He said the bureau would provide brokering services to access semiconductor facilities globally on “attractive commercial terms” as well as supporting access to semiconductor design micro-credential courses.
The courses would be run by a yet to be announced private training provider in collaboration with the state government.
The S3B would also be tasked with fostering a more connected and market aware semiconductor ecosystem, after a study of the relatively small local sector found areas of strength and strategic significance, but plenty of room to grow in a market forecast to be worth US$ 1 trillion by the end of the decade.
The Australian Semiconductor Sector Study, conducted in 2020 by the University of Sydney Nano Institute and the NSW Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer, recommended the establishment of the S3B as an important first step that would act as a hub for the local industry and inform further initiatives of the state government.
Plans for the S3B and $4 million in funding for it from the state’s Emerging Industry Infrastructure Fund were revealed in October last year.
The government had been expecting to announce confirmed funding and a contract by early this year, but host organisations and a location were only revealed on Monday. InnovationAus.com understands contracts are still being finalised.
The funding was confirmed in Monday’s announcement along with a further $2 million in cash and in-kind contributions from partner organisations.
“The S3B will build connectivity and collaboration, and support commercial impact,” inaugural director, Dr Nadia Court said.
“It will play a key role in advocating for the sector, connecting companies and researchers with design and manufacturing capabilities globally,” she said.
Australia’s chief scientist Dr Cathy Foley, who also presented at the Sydney conference welcomed the move.
“[The] announcement of the bureau is great news and a testament to the ambition to grow Australia’s role in the semiconductor industry an supply chain,” she said.
While the S3B will focus on brokering, skills and strategy, an Advanced Manufacturing Research Facility in Bradfield in Sydney’s west will provide facilities for advanced semiconductor and electronics manufacturing.
The $260 million facility is expected to be operational by 2026.
Last week, Sydney company Silicon Quantum Computing, 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.
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