Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Semiconductors don’t come to mind when you think of Vietnam, but U.S. President Biden’s visit and announcement of a strategic partnership in September catapulted the country into the limelight and fired up the country’s ambition to be a key semiconductor hub in the region.
“We want to the chip industry to rise in Vietnam like it did in Taiwan,” Tran Dang Hoa, chairman of FPT Information System (FPT IS), told EE Times in a recent, exclusive interview here. FPT IS, one of the organizations in the country looking to deliver the capability for Vietnam, last year established a subsidiary, FPT Semiconductor, to exploit FPT’s mixed signal design capability and focus on design and development of power management ICs (PMICs).
Watch this video interview to hear what Mr. Dang Hoa and Nguyen Vinh Quang, the founder and CEO of FPT Semiconductor, have to say about the company’s ambition, their PMIC product roadmap and how FPT is establishing the first semiconductor faculty in Hanoi to train up to 15,000 engineers by 2030—in the skills needed for the semiconductor ecosystem as part of the broader target for the national semiconductor ambition. The faculty will train production, package and test engineers, as well as chip design. It expects to collaborate with key universities around the world, including Arizona State University and National Taiwan University.
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Last week, FPT Corporation, the parent organization for FPT IS and FPT Semi, told the press it would collaborate with Vietnam’s National Innovation Center (NIC) and a group of U.S. semiconductor experts to establish the Vietnam semiconductor training center, VSHE (Vietnam Semiconductor Hub for Education). FPT said the center aims to bolster the training of local semiconductor talent, sponsor semiconductor projects and facilitate the transition of IC design concepts into real-world applications.
As part of this collaboration, they will work toward the ambitious goal of cultivating a skilled workforce of 50,000 semiconductor engineers by 2030 (of which FPT will aim to train 15,000), with a vision extending to 2045. The partnership has pledged to provide 300 scholarships for outstanding students in the semiconductor field at 20 top Vietnamese universities.
To build the various links and build more of a U.S. presence in product design engineering, including hardware and embedded software, as well as IoT, FPT this week announced the acquisition of a Colorado-based firm called Cardinal Peak. Specific details weren’t given, but FPT said this is part of its investment commitment of $100 million by the end of this year in the U.S. It adds about 100 staffers through the acquisition of Cardinal Peak.
President Biden’s September visit to Vietnam resulted in the announcement of extended joint initiatives, including a new semiconductor partnership to boost resilience of supply chains for the U.S., workforce-development initiatives to support semiconductor capacity in the U.S., policy coordination in the manufacture of electronic components, and bilateral joint research.
According to the statement put out by the White House during the time of Biden’s visit, the U.S. believes Vietnam can play a critical role in building resilient semiconductor supply chains—particularly to expand capacity in reliable partners where it can’t be re-shored to the U.S. and further promote manufacturing and industry development at home under the U.S. CHIPS Act.
So, the parties signed an MoU to formalize this bilateral partnership—to support U.S. industry by expanding the capacity of the semiconductor ecosystem in Vietnam. Under the International Technology Security and Innovation Fund (“ITSI” Fund), created by the CHIPS Act of 2022, the U.S. will partner with Vietnam to further develop Vietnam’s semiconductor ecosystem, regulatory framework, and workforce and infrastructure needs.
On the workforce development aspect, the U.S. and Vietnam will jointly develop hands-on teaching labs and training courses for semiconductor assembly, testing and packaging. The U.S. government will provide initial seed funding of $2 million to launch the initiatives, in conjunction with future support from the government of Vietnam and the private sector—which clearly include FPT.
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