TAIPEI, Taiwan — Science and Technology Minister Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said Friday that his ministry is planning to invest NT$4 billion (US$132 million) over the next four years in the local semiconductor sector.
Attending the inauguration ceremony of a new production plant of Taiwan-based NAND Flash controller supplier Phison Electronics Corp. (群聯) located in Miaoli County’s Chunan, Chen said that the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) will provide NT$1 billion per year during the 2018-2021 period to a wide range of high-tech chip applications such as artificial intelligence (AI).
Chen said that the planned investments are expected to lead semiconductor firms operating in Taiwan and local academic circles to invest on their own to speed up the pace of Taiwan’s integrated circuit business development.
Chen added that the government investment is also aimed at working with the private sector to cultivate its own talent pool in the local IC business in a bid to upgrade the industry to compete in the global market.
Many multinational high-tech firms, such as Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Intel Corp., and Qualcomm Inc., have entered the AI sector.
Market analysts said that Taiwan has set its sights in this area to play catch-up in the world market.
Chen said that the MOST has a sense that AI development is an irreversible trend in the global high-tech business, and the development is expected to create demand for energy efficient ICs in the global market.
Chen said that the local IC industry faces many challenges in the global market and that the government is hoping it can work with the industry to map out strategies to take on rising competition.
China is one of the formidable rivals of Taiwan in the semiconductor business at a time when the Beijing government has injected massive funds to cultivate its own supply chain, which is expected to compromise Taiwanese IC firms’ outbound sales, analysts said.
Earlier this month, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that her administration will lend full support to the local semiconductor industry, as the industry serves as the backbone of the local economy.
In addition to Chen, Taiwan External Trade Development Council Chairman James Huang (黃志芳), among many other guests, attended the new plant inauguration ceremony of Phison.
Huang said that the presence of Phison is one of the best examples of economic cooperation between Taiwan and Malaysia, referring to investment by Phison Chairman Pua Khein Seng (潘健成) in Taiwan, who is an ethnic Chinese from the Southeast Asian country.
Pua said that Phison has put out roots in Taiwan in terms of technology development, while having an ambition to penetrate the global market.
He said that with production of the new plant kicking off, the Phison workforce will expand to 2,300 from the current 1,400.