DARPA summit focuses on reviving U.S. chip industry

Tech executives, researchers and government officials are gathering in Seattle this week to figure out ways to add a new dimension to America’s chip industry — figuratively and literally.

“We’re going to talk about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent domestic microelectronics manufacturing,” Mark Rosker, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Microsystems Technology Office, said today at the opening session of the ERI 2.0 Summit at the Hyatt Regency Seattle.

More than 1,300 attendees signed up for the DARPA event, which follows up on a series of Electronics Resurgence Initiative Summits that were conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The main objective of this week’s summit is to work on ways to boost research, development and manufacturing for the chip industry. DARPA is just one of the government agencies involved in such efforts. Representatives of the Commerce Department, the U.S. Department of Energy, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation are also at this week’s summit.


NLM Photonics raises $1M from Japanese companies

Seattle-based NLM Photonics says it has raised $1 million in new funding to advance commercialization of its hybrid electro-optic modulation technology, which is meant to open the way for semiconductors that can handle more data with less power.

The funding round was led by two Japanese companies: Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co., also known as TOK, and Hamamatsu Photonics K.K.

TOK is a world leader in manufacturing materials for advanced electronics, and in supplying critical goods for the semiconductor industry. Hamamatsu is a major player in the market for photonics components — and was involved in a previous investment round for NLM. The TOK investment deal also includes collaboration on developing shelf-stable inks incorporating NLM’s proprietary materials.


Northwest teams win federal funding for tech innovations

Four Pacific Northwest public-private partnerships have won support from the National Science Foundation through a $43 million nationwide program to promote regional technology innovations.

The NSF’s Regional Innovation Engines program is aimed at ensuring that the U.S. remains in the vanguard of technological competitiveness. Forty-four teams in all were selected to receive up to $1 million in Type-1 funding each for up to two years to develop program proposals in their chosen fields.

Programs that are selected for Type-2 funding could eventually receive up to $160 million over the course of 10 years.

“These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for emerging hubs of innovation and potential future NSF Engines,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said today in a news release. “These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF’s vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation.”