The Department of Defense is looking to invest in what it calls “microelectronics commons” to help both the domestic industry and academia move small novel technologies from the development laboratory to the commercial production line.
“The notion is that eventually the commons becomes self-sustaining,” said Victoria Coleman, chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force.
Coleman, who is responsible for originating the concept during her previous stint at the University of California, Berkeley, said the goal is to establish a national facility that can be used by professors and businesses and run as a business with profit margins.
She noted the U.S. must regain a capacity to design and produce microelectronics in order to avoid relying on a potential foreign to produce defense system components.
“What it means is that, first of all, we will not be relying on our on our peer adversaries to prove out our innovations,” the Air Force chief scientist said.
“We can invest a little money on what we think might pay off. But in order for us to prove out our innovations, we depend on them, and that is an unacceptable situation to be in.”
DOD asked for input from industry in February on the department’s vision to form a public-private partnership that will consist of distributed regional innovation hubs nationwide as part of the National Network for Microelectronics Research and Development.