Biden administration plans $285M in CHIPS Act funding for digital twins

President Joe Biden’s administration is looking to fund efforts that improve semiconductor manufacturing by using digital twins.

Digital twins are virtual models used to test and optimize physical objects and systems. For example, auto manufacturers are looking to use digital twins of their factories to experiment with new manufacturing processes without disrupting production.

The Biden administration announced will be accepting applications for what it anticipates to be a total of $285 million in funding for work that includes research into semiconductor digital twin development, building and supporting combined physical/digital facilities, industry demonstration projects, workforce training, and operation of what it says will be a new CHIPS Manufacturing USA Institute.

During a press briefing Sunday, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology Director Laurie E. Locascio said digital twins could reduce chip development and manufacturing costs, while also enabling more collaborative processes around chip design and development.

“Currently, no country has invested at the scale needed or successfully unified the industry to unlock the enormous potential of digital twin technology for breakthrough discoveries,” Locascio said.

This funding is part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, a $280 billion bill that included $52.7 billion to increase domestic semiconductor manufacturing. At the time, President Biden noted that the United States had gone from producing 40 percent of semiconductors worldwide to less than 10 percent.

Echoing another major theme in the administration’s rhetoric, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Arati Prabhakar said Sunday that when the CHIPS Act was passed, semiconductor manufacturing had become “dangerously concentrated in just one part of the world” (presumably referring to China).

There will be an informational webinar about applications on May 8. Organizations that can apply include nonprofits, universities, governments, and for-profit companies that are “domestic entities” (incorporated in the United States, with their principal place of business here).

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