A few dozen executives will gather next week at the first event to kick off what could become nearly a half billion dollar program to revitalize the U.S. electronics industry. An event the following week in Silicon Valley will seek input from the broader tech community on finding new materials, architectures and design processes for a post-Moore’s-law era.
The Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) under the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency aims to serve the needs both of the military and the tech industry. DARPA will spend a total of $200 million on the effort including $75 million of new funding expected in its fiscal 2018 budget.
There’s no “specific requirement for industry cost share, but…it should scale with the value of the effort to the company's commercial business…[and] we think a 1:1 cost share would be appropriate,” Bill Chappell, director of DARPA's microsystems technology office that oversees the program, said in an email exchange.
DARPA will boil feedback from the events into a call for proposals it will release in September. Each accepted project will have its own schedule and deliverables, but DARPA projects generally last four years.
The spending is significant but relatively small compared to the ambitions of the program. It aims to accelerate research in the kinds of post-Moore’s law areas Gordon Moore himself defined in his article that defined chip scaling.
They include “the integration of novel materials and functional blocks, automation in design, and the reuse of large functional blocks and architectures,” DARPA said on its ERI Web site.
The two July events will prime the pump for proposals and investments for ERI from industry and academia. The head of the Semiconductor Industry Association applauded the effort in a blog post last month, but noted it comes amid proposed cuts in other semiconductor-related efforts and agencies.
The July 11 summit in the Washington D.C. area is limited to 65 executives mainly drawn from defense contractors who will implement new technologies as part of project proposals. A two-day workshop in San Jose July 18-19 aims to gather “community input on vision, goals, and metrics for research and development investments,” the invitation said.
At both events, DARPA and industry partners will share the program’s outline and details of how to make proposals. The events are also networking opportunities to find partners. In addition, attendees will be able to give DARPA program managers a five-minute pitch of their proposals at the San Jose event.