The federal government is looking to invest in the domestic development and supply of semiconductors and photonics, key components for industries served by job shops.
François–Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, has announced the Semiconductor Challenge Callout, a fund of $150 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund to make targeted investments aimed at building Canada’s domestic semiconductor supply.
He also announced $90 million in funding for the National Research Council of Canada’s Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre (CPFC).
“Our government wants Canada to be a strategic global leader in the semiconductor industry. That’s why we’re investing $240 million today to strengthen our semiconductor ecosystem, which will allow us to build a more innovative and resilient economy. By investing in Canada’s semiconductor industry, we are making a firm commitment to businesses looking to invest in Canada. Whether it’s high-value or large-scale manufacturing, we want to see Canada be home to the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers. We are also proud to support the revitalization of the National Research Council’s CPFC, which will enhance Canada’s already impressive photonics sector,” Champagne said.
Semiconductors, often called chips or microchips, are critical to various sectors. A shortage of semiconductors over the past year has led to automotive plant production slowdowns in North America. The U.S. is also looking to invest in building its domestic semiconductor production. Photonics is the technology of generating light and harnessing the power of light. This technology is used in telecommunication networks that support remote and virtual ways of working.
“The Challenge announced represents Canada’s initial commitment to investing in innovation projects that will reinforce and scale up our innovative semiconductor ecosystem. The government is calling on businesses to identify ambitious, transformative proposals in the priority areas of research, commercialization, and expanded semiconductor manufacturing capacity. This will help the Canadian semiconductor industry enhance its role in the integrated North American information and communications technology supply chain,” the federal government said in a media release.
The investment in the CPFC will see critical upgrades of equipment, improving the centre’s capacity and capability to address the ever-increasing complexity of leading-edge technology being brought to market by its clients. A key asset to the Canadian photonics sector over the last two decades, the CPFC is the only compound semiconductor foundry in North America that is publicly operated and open to all for use. It has an track record of delivering photonics device fabrication services to the research and private sectors, helping to grow many Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises in such industries as telecommunications, environmental sensing, automotive, defence and aerospace.
Canada’s semiconductor sector includes over 100 homegrown and multinational companies conducting research and development on microchips. Its manufacturing base includes over 30 applied research laboratories and 5 commercial facilities in areas such as compound semiconductors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and advanced packaging.