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Taiwan set to budget NT$800 million to develop advanced IC processes

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An engineer showcases a semiconductor. CNA Sept. 17, 2023

Taipei, Sept. 17 (CNA) The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) is set to budget around NT$800 million (US$25,084,582) to subsidize smaller domestic IC designers in the development of processes below 28 nanometers.

The amount constitutes part of the NT$5.2 billion the economics ministry is set to receive next year as part of a semiconductor industry innovation project proposed by the National Science and Technology Council, which is awaiting Cabinet approval, the Industrial Development Bureau under the MOEA told CNA.

Around NT$12 billion will be channeled into the five-year project in 2024.

The funding aims to help domestic smaller IC designers develop advanced IC processes in the face of expected competition from China following semiconductor export controls Washington imposed on Beijing in October 2022, the bureau said.

It is widely believed that the export control measures put in place by the United States last year will prevent China from developing manufacturing processes below 28nm, leading to the world's second-largest economy focusing on 28nm and 40nm instead.

To protect domestic firms from an overly competitive market, the bureau said the subsidies will target companies developing advanced techniques and international industry trends, such as artificial intelligence, smart cockpit and communication technology.

There are about 200 small and medium-sized IC design companies in Taiwan, with only a minority capable of developing 16nm or 14nm processes, which the bureau said may be unaffordable for firms of that size.

Requirements that firms will need to meet to qualify for the subsidies will be announced at the beginning of next year, and the government will fund up to half of the amount applied for by the companies, the bureau said, adding it is expecting to see benefits arise from its investment within two to three years.

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