Democratizing Access to Advanced Semiconductors: A Blueprint for Empowering Small Businesses and Startups

The semiconductor industry currently faces both shortages and oversupply challenges due to geopolitical and macroeconomic factors.

Over the past year, a combination of rising interest rates, inflation, international trade policies, and tech-led stock market fluctuations have led to decreased market capitalization. As a result, many semiconductor companies are cutting costs by reducing hiring and capital expenditures. These trends are particularly challenging for small businesses and startups in the industry.

However, industry expert Chen Cheng-Ho sees a clear opportunity amidst these current challenges. As founder of IC DESIGN of Semiconductor LLC, Chen Cheng-Ho develops semiconductor solutions for IoT (Internet of Things) and edge computing, particularly in AI applications.

As IoT and edge computing technologies continue to evolve, the semiconductor industry will play a pivotal role in enabling new applications and in driving innovation, according to Chen Cheng-Ho.

“However, the landscape of the semiconductor industry is changing,” he says. “The dominance of large corporations is negatively affecting innovation and competitiveness. We believe that democratizing the access to advanced semiconductors will lead to greater innovation.”

He shares that enabling small businesses and startups to access cutting-edge technology that was previously available only to large corporations will lead to growth. IC DESIGN provides performance evaluation, RTL coding, FPGA implementation, and customer support for SoC solutions for companies of all sizes.

“When we foster competitiveness within the semiconductor industry, everyone benefits,” says Chen Cheng-Ho, who earned his Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan. “We see the economic benefits of revenue generation and job creation, and we see advancing technology in the IoT and edge computing fields. All of these areas impact other sectors of the economy.”

With over 14 years of experience in wireless communication technology, Chen Cheng-Ho has demonstrated expertise in digital design front-end activities. He has worked on advanced technologies such as wireless modem and deep learning computing.

Chen Cheng-Ho and IC DESIGN also bring proven collaboration skills with many industry teams and professionals, including physical implement engineers, software and firmware engineers, and system engineers to their clients.

“The solutions that IC DESIGN not only foster innovation and competitiveness within a critical industry, but they also align with the strategic interests of the United States,” says Chen Cheng-Ho.

Although the U.S. has been a global leader in advanced semiconductors, other nations are investing heavily and offering stiff competition. Chen Cheng-Ho shares some of the overall solutions for democratizing access to advanced semiconductors, including:

  • building more mid-tier systems
  • designing tools that require less up-front investment
  • supporting more electrical engineers and computer scientists with incentives and scholarships
  • providing better private-sector access to high-performance computing sites in academia and national labs

“Advanced computing is critical to scientific innovations, economic growth, and the competitiveness of U.S. companies,” Chen Cheng-Ho emphasizes. “When American small businesses and startups have greater access to advanced semiconductor technology, the nation can build and maintain a place of strength on the world economic stage.”

Chen Cheng-Ho is optimistic about the outlook for the global semiconductor industry. Citing a July 2023 report published in Semiconductor Manufacturing Monitor, he notes that all industry segments are projected to see year-over-year increases in 2024.

According to a report in Markets and Markets, the global edge computing market size is expected to reach $100 billion by 2027. Precedence Research predicts that the IoT markets will reach $1742.8 billion by the end of the decade.

However, according to Chen Cheng-Ho, companies are still feeling the headwinds of the recent downturns, particularly in the semiconductor manufacturing sector.

“We believe that leveling the playing field by empowering small businesses and startups in the U.S. is the key to long-term growth,” he states.

“The semiconductor industry depends on continuous innovation, and we believe the answer to that growth lies in unleashing the power of small businesses and startups in this country.” Written by Tricia Drevets

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