Vaishnaw’s Silicon Valley visit spurs new conversations on India’s semiconductor march

Ritu Jha-

India’s communications, electronics and information technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who is currently visiting Silicon Valley with his team, had a series of closed-door meetings with Stanford University professors to chip-making corporates Intel and Applied Materials as well as with IT-based industry leaders and venture capitalists.

Arogyaswami Paulraj, professor emeritus, Stanford University, who also served as an advisor on India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) hosted a conference at Stanford and made a presentation on Building a Fabless Semiconductor Industry in India which shows India imports all its semiconductor needs, estimated at $12 billion in 2022 (as component or subassembly or end products).

Vinod Dham, who also serves as an advisor on India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) and was at the Stanford meeting as well as at the SEMI in Milpitas California that connects more than 2,500 member companies and 1.3 million professionals worldwide to advance the technology and business of electronics design and manufacturing meeting May 8 along with Vaishnaw, told indica about the SEMI meeting there were various supply chain companies that have started helping to build the ecosystem for semiconductors in India.

Dham was quite positive in the way India is promoting semiconductors. He said, “They are succeeding and making great progress. In fact, they [Vaishnaw and team] are here meeting all types of people to encourage them to do more.”

He added, “Whether it’s chip design or chip manufacturing application, all aspects of semiconductors are being discussed.”

About infrastructure, Dham said, These changes don’t happen overnight. You will hear a lot more in the coming weeks and months. India is making great progress.”

India’s semiconductor mission ‘s motto is ‘Jai Vigyan, Jai Anusandhan’ (Hail Science, Hail Research), through which the government envisions making India autonomous in semiconductor research, development, and manufacturing.

Venktash Shukla, former TiE president and venture capitalist, attended the afternoon meeting hosted by The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) in collaboration with Indian Consulate in San Francisco where companies such as Apple and Amazon attended along with 50 Silicon Valley industry figures and venture capitalists.

There the conversation was mixed. Issues that were discussed included the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) to skilled talent needed that would help promote industrial activities across the country if India want to be called a manufacturing hub.

Shukla lauded Vaishnaw on India’s initiative towards making it a Fab hub. “He gave a thoughtful answer [when asked for his approach] and realized no big company is going to build semiconductor Fab units right away. We need to build the ecosystem first. So we are in a process of building to a point where it becomes no brainer for design and testing companies or outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (manufacturing) vendors.”

He said his focus is now on building infrastructure, and access to ports and access to high speed cargo, and also creating a pool of 85,000 skilled workers for this.

“We are pretty optimistic,” Vaishnaw told the over 50 industry bodies in the room.

“I think they are not expecting them to setup a $20 billion fab in India,” Shukla told indica and added with US companies already established in Taiwan, it would be challenging said. “I think it would be a huge challenge and India does not have all the pieces. But this is the first time I heard from some government functionary that they are thinking about it in the right way.”

Anita Manwani, TiE Silicon Valley president, told indica the whole focus is on electronics and the US Chip Act. That is very important both for us while operating in the Indo-US corridor as well as for India to make to sure to get all the support they need, to make things more easy for manufacturing in India. “India just needs a huge boost,” Manwani told indica.

“Building a fabless semiconductor industry is a critical capability for India, so however challenging, we have to
find a way,” said Prof Paulraj.

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