Taiwan's ITRI unveils upcoming R&D focuses as the country seeks to fill semiconductor tech gap

Bryan Chuang, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0


Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), which receives subsidies from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, is scheduled to spend up to NT$25.5 billion in 2024, an increase of NT$2.48 billion, or 10.77%, compared to the budget of NT$23 billion in 2023. It is understood that the increase in ITRI's budget is related to the growing international influence of Taiwan's existing technology industry, the increased technological threshold, and the need for equipment upgrades.

ITRI has long been receiving government subsidies, so its activities are mostly related to current technology policies. For example, since Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen took office, most of ITRI's relevant projects have aligned with the government's 5+2 planning, which focus on smart machinery, Asia Silicon Valley, green technology, bio-medicine, defense, new agriculture and circular economy, along with the government-designated six core strategic industrial sectors, including information and digital, cybersecurity, precision health, green and renewable energy, national defense and strategic stockpile industries.

In addition to technology research and development, it also nurtures talent and promotes the growth of technology startups.

It is worth noting that the pandemic and geopolitical factors have brought significant attention to Taiwan's semiconductor manufacturing capabilities. The United States and the European Union have introduced chips acts to support the semiconductor industry. This makes it particularly important for Taiwan to enhance the competitiveness of its existing industries. It is reported that the Ministry of Economic Affairs has requested ITRI to propose relevant plans to strengthen technological gaps in companies to maintain Taiwan's advantage in semiconductors.

Currently, based on publicly available information, ITRI will invest in low-latency AI sensoring technology, chip software technology, and incorporate the chiplet standard transmission interface to establish a low-latency AI chiplet solution. This will achieve 3D integrated rapid prototyping and small-scale production of chip-level heterogeneous integration.

In addition, the development of super high-frequency module materials and packaging heat dissipation technology required for B5G/6G is also a focus, so that Taiwan's manufacturers can reduce dependency on foreign suppliers when it comes to next-generation communications. The development of low-temperature microwave control circuits and low-temperature memory technology, which are key components of quantum computers, is also among ITRI's focuses.

According to the budget submitted by ITRI to the Legislative Yuan, ITRI's income is divided into project research income, technical service income, and project-derived income.

Project research income mainly comes from technology research and development projects subsidized or commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and relevant development fund. Technical service income includes income from services such as technology development, technology transfer, industry guidance and consultation, inspection, and analysis commissioned by public and private enterprises and other government agencies. Project-derived income, such as income from government project results, accounts for a smaller proportion at approximately 6%.