By David Shepardson
NASHUA, New Hampshire (Reuters) -U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said she expects to make around a dozen semiconductor chips funding awards within the next year, including multi-billion dollar announcements that could drastically reshape U.S. chip production.
She announced the first award on Monday – $35 million to a BAE Systems facility in Hampshire to produce chips for fighter planes from the “Chips for America” semiconductor manufacturing and research subsidy program approved by Congress in August 2022.
“Next year we’ll get into some of the bigger ones with leading-edge fabs,” Raimondo told reporters. “A year from now I think we will have made 10 or 12 similar announcements, some of them multi-billion dollar announcements.”
In an interview with Reuters, Raimondo said that the number of awards could go higher than 12.
She said she wants the percentage of semiconductors produced in the United States to rise from about 12% to closer to 20% – though that is still down from 40% in 1990 – and to have at least two “leading-edge” U.S. manufacturing clusters. In addition, she wants the U.S. to have cutting-edge memory and packaging production and to “meet the military’s needs for current and mature” chips.
Raimondo noted that the U.S. currently does not have any cutting-edge manufacturing production and wants to get that to about 10%.
Companies like Intel, Micron, GlobalFoundries are among those seeking significant funding from the chip program.
Raimondo said the program has received more than 550 statements of interest and nearly 150 pre-applications, full applications, and concept plans.
She said that given the extensive interest, there will be many disappointed companies.
“We have national security goals and we need to make our investments to hit those goals and we’re going to do that,” she added.
Congress has allocated $39 billion for manufacturing incentives to encourage companies to build and expand facilities and awards can be a mix of grants, government loans or loan guarantees.
The department has said direct funding awards are expected to range between 5%-15% of project capital expenditures and total award amounts will generally not exceed 35% of project capital expenditures.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)