LINCOLN – During a visit from officials and members from the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Security Technology Accelerator (NSTXL) hosted by the NEXUS Center, the Healey-Driscoll administration today announced $9.2 million in new technology and workforce development grants aimed at spurring the microelectronics and semiconductor industry across the Northeast Region. The new awards are the first investments made by the Northeast Microelectronics Coalition (NEMC) Hub, the division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative that is overseeing investments made by the federal CHIPS and Science Act following the formal establishment of the Hub in September 2023.
The largest of the new grants will provide $7.7 million in funding to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that will support a project with global semiconductor and display equipment manufacturer Applied Materials to establish new advanced nano-fabrication capabilities within the MIT.Nano research hub. The new equipment will be installed at MIT over the coming year and will include a suite of state-of-the-art 200mm semiconductor wafer fabrication tools, to support research and development at industry-compatible scale, using the same equipment found in high-volume production facilities. The grant from the NEMC Hub, and the agreement between Applied Materials and MIT, together represent an estimated $40 million in new public and private investment. The tools from Applied Materials, which should be online in early 2025, enable the ‘lab-to-fab’ transition of technologies by early-stage startups and boost research critical to defense-focused industries and other vital technology sectors. According to the global trade association SEMI, these fabrication facilities are critical to the development of semiconductors used in a broad range of markets, including consumer electronics, automotive, industrial automation, clean energy, and more.
Today’s announcement also spotlighted four new awards totaling approximately $1.5 million that will boost education and workforce development programs in the region, helping companies and research labs to develop trained workers that can help domestic companies power the reshoring of microelectronics fabrication and hardware development.
"Today’s grants are an important milestone for our state, the northeast region, and the nation as a whole,” said Governor Maura Healey. “The investment in this R&D infrastructure will open doors to students, innovators, and entrepreneurs across the region, helping take new discoveries from the drawing board and into the real world. These grants will also open doors to the workforce of the future, providing students and our Veterans a pathway to high-paying, critically important jobs that exist in this sector. This is exactly why Massachusetts competed so hard to win the Northeast Microelectronics Coalition Hub.”
“These grants focused on expanding our workforce will teach more students that you do not need a four-year degree to excel in this sector, helping open more doors to students as they graduate high school,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, the co-chair of the Massachusetts STEM Council. “The investment made by Applied Materials in MIT.Nano, and the recent investment from the DoD in the Northeast Microelectronics Coalition Hub highlights the importance this region has to developing next-generation technologies and the required workforce, that is unparalleled anywhere in the world.”
“The Institute launched MIT.nano in 2018 to drive discovery and innovation on campus, creating a new center of community and collaboration,” said MIT President Sally Kornbluth. “With this new investment by NEMC and Applied Materials, we have an incredible opportunity to supercharge MIT.nano, provide the capabilities most needed in the region and help revitalize US leadership in microelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing.”
“Applied Materials’ collaboration with MIT, supported by the grant from the NEMC Hub, will help accelerate innovation in a wide range of specialty chip technologies, including silicon and compound semiconductors, that are essential to the products people use every day,” said Dr. Om Nalamasu, Senior Vice President and CTO of Applied Materials. “The new capabilities we are creating at MIT.nano can establish faster pathways for bringing early-stage ideas to commercialization and strengthen the semiconductor industry’s talent pipeline in the United States.”
“The growth of the NEMC Hub since its launch, shows the strong alignment we have between government and the private sector when it comes to semiconductors and microelectronics,” said Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao. “We’re honored to have our partners from the DoD here today, as well as the membership of the NEMC Hub, who are all key partners on these critical investments. Today’s grants are designed to get equipment installed quickly, expedite new training programs, revolutionize our workforce across the state, and bolster our global competitiveness in alignment with the CHIPS Act.”
The four workforce programs will aim to expand engagement to students across the northeast region, including direct outreach to underrepresented groups and key audiences such as Veterans, and driving new workers for U.S.-based microelectronics companies:
- MITRE, Bedford, Mass. - An award of $750,000 to expand the Embedded Capture-the-Flag (eCTF) competition, which aims to attract students and develop their skills in secure microelectronics. The program leverages gamification to bridge the educational gap in embedded systems security and microelectronics, to prepare students to work in this critical field. The eCTF program is designed as a hands-on, project-based learning experience that caters to participants of various skill levels. The program will be aimed at high school, community college, undergraduate, and graduate students, with a focus on underrepresented groups within the industry.
- Headlamp, Boston, Mass. - An award of $250,000 to a ‘Veteran transition accelerator’ that will support the Headlamp SkillBridge Fellowships program, which will provide a structured pathway to provide Veterans with general education about the microelectronics industry and employer-specific training, concluding with a fellowship at a member company within the NEMC Hub. The program will support 25 veterans with education and fellowships, helping drive net migration into the northeast region’s workforce.
- MIT, Cambridge, Mass. - An award of $75,000 to expand the existing Northeast Microelectronics Summer Internship Program (NMIP) which provides more first- and second-year undergraduate students with internships at microelectronics companies in the northeast. MIT, in partnership with the NEMC Hub, matches students with paid internships at microelectronics companies, plus organizes bi-weekly field trips that educate the students on the local microelectronics ecosystem, the opportunities that exist, and potential mentorship opportunities. By engaging with students with hands-on learning opportunities early in their academic careers, participants will be better equipped to choose a career path that focuses on microelectronics hardware.
- Makers of a Better Future - An award of $400,000 will be leveraged to expand the existing 10-hour awareness curriculum developed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at the MassTech Collaborative. The funding will help scale the program to reach more high schools across the northeast region, expanding from the current curriculum, which is currently deployed in 50 Massachusetts high schools reaching 1,500 students. The current curriculum is focused on education about advanced manufacturing careers, including focus modules on robotics, additive manufacturing, and photonics, with a new module developed focused on semiconductors, including how they are used to solve technical challenges and the wide range of careers within the sector.
“As our nation works to address critical STEM workforce shortages and grow tech talent, MITRE is proud to be part of the solution,” said Laurie Giandomenico, Ph.D., senior vice president and chief acceleration officer, MITRE. “The United States is making historic investments to secure global leadership in microelectronics and semiconductors, and scalable programs like MITRE’s Embedded Capture the Flag competition can help attract and train a diverse workforce essential to the development of secure microelectronics systems and supply chains. Participating students develop practical skills for securing critical embedded systems, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, smart grids, and medical devices, while gaining exposure to an ecosystem of hardware design and security career opportunities alongside potential employers.”
“Veterans are an underutilized source of talent, and they stand ready to help rebuild the backbone of infrastructure critical to our national security. Some 150,000 veterans leave the service every year -- we hope many of them will consider bringing their leadership and technical acumen into the Northeast and the microelectronics industry,” said Steve Chang, CEO and founder of Headlamp. “This grant shows that the Northeast is ready to lead the way for transitioning veterans. We are honored to help match the right veteran for the right roles and help illuminate the unique value each individual can bring to the microelectronics value chain.”
In September 2023, the MassTech Collaborative received a one-year federal award totaling $19.7 million through the Microelectronics Commons program, executed through the Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S2MARTS) other transaction agreement managed by Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division and the NSTXL. Today’s announcement kicked off a one-day visit by officials from the U.S. Department of Defense and NSTXL to engage with members of the Northeast Microelectronic Coalition Hub, including a membership meeting hosted by the NEXUS Center in Lincoln and a site visit to MIT.Nano later in the day.
“The Microelectronics Commons has already enabled conversations, relationships, and offerings to take place that would not normally have taken place,” said Stephanie Lin, Director of Microelectronics Commons at NSTXL, the National Security Technology Accelerator. “Because of this, many innovative partnerships have been forming, not just as a result of investments made, but also those anticipated. We are highly encouraged to see that this level of collaboration continues to reverberate through the regional levels.”
Since the initial funding announcement in September, the NEMC Hub has grown from 90 to 160 members, comprising leading companies, universities, and research-focused organizations across eight northeast states and beyond. In addition to review and support for the new grant awards, NEMC Hub members have also been activated to respond to the recent $280 million ‘call for projects’ launched by NSTXL on December 18, 2023.
"We're excited by the opportunity the CHIPS and Science Act holds for this region and how today's awards will shape the microelectronics sector for decades to come," said Director of Federal Funds and Infrastructure Quentin Palfrey. "Our thanks to President Biden, the Massachusetts congressional delegation and our partners at the DoD and NSTXL for making these investments in the innovation and workers of this region. Today's visit shows how Massachusetts can leverage both a whole-of-government strategy and a regional approach that puts federal dollars to work boosting our defense capabilities while furthering workforce development and economic competitiveness in our communities."
"The NEMC Hub investments, programs, and project pursuits by our members is the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act in action. The amazing member growth and activity we have seen within our Hub since the federal announcement in September increases the opportunity for unique partnerships to emerge and for us to deliver on the Microelectronics Commons mission for the Department of Defense,” said Ben Linville-Engler, Deputy Director at the MassTech Collaborative and the interim director of the NEMC Hub. “That cohesive collaboration, across industry, academia, and state boarders, will help our region’s competitiveness within the global tech sector, but also as we compete for more federal funding opportunities and leverage the NEMC Hub as an economic development engine for the region.”
“I am thrilled to see this $9.2 million investment in our microelectronics and semiconductor education and workforce development. I voted for the CHIPS and Science Act because I knew we would be investing in cutting-edge technologies that would not only advance research and innovation, but also boost economic development and create thousands of good-paying jobs here in Massachusetts and across our country,” said Congresswoman Lori Trahan.
“The Chips and Science Act, passed by Congress in 2022, marked the beginning of a once-in-a-generation investment in our future national security,” said Congressman Seth Moulton. “Today, I’m thrilled to see a transformative initiative like the NEMC Hub take flight because of that legislation. The Microelectronic Commons will help reduce our reliance on foreign nations to manufacture chips, and importantly, it will limit opportunities for technology theft. Even better, these NEMC Hub investments will create high-quality, well-paying jobs and offer valuable upskilling opportunities to our workforce. This is exactly how we need to approach national security moving forward: cutting-edge innovation created right here on American soil.”