Chipmakers turn ruthless in battle for share of federal funding
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters on Wednesday that the goal is to create “at least two” new clusters of manufacturing capacity for cutting-edge chips, in addition to facilities producing other types of semiconductors. Each cluster will employ thousands of workers and support a network of businesses that supply the raw materials and services they need.
“We have very clear national security goals, and we have to meet those goals,” Ms. Raimondo said, noting that not every chipmaker is getting what they want. “I suspect there will be a lot of disappointed companies who feel like they deserve a certain amount of money, when the reality is that our return on investment here is the achievement of our national security goals. Period.”
The race is intensifying as the Biden administration prepares to issue ground rules for the application next week. Grants of up to $3 billion or more per program could begin this spring.
Big spending by governments in South Korea, Taiwan, China and elsewhere has helped shape the global chip industry, executives said. The current policy push in the U.S. could change the market again, giving some companies an edge that will allow them to beat rivals.
Most chip companies have emphasized the common goal of boosting U.S. production when discussing subsidies publicly. But clear differences have emerged between them. Many of these were outlined in more than 200 filings with the Commerce Department last March by companies, organizations, universities and others.
In addition to extolling the merits of their own manufacturing initiatives, some applicants have argued that competing projects should receive less funding or should face severe restrictions on how they can operate, though few companies mention their rivals by name.
Intel and other U.S. companies such as GlobalFoundries and SkyWater Technology have expressed concerns among foreign-owned companies, including whether their U.S. factories can continue to operate during a crisis at home.