US Department of Commerce Announces New Industrial Advisory Committee to Advise Microelectronics Research

By Logan Wamsley

In the wake of several recent issues in the global electronic component and semiconductor supply chain, the U.S. government is taking direct action. On Dec. 1, 2021, the U.S. Commerce Department has announced the establishment of a high-level committee that will advise the U.S. government on topics such as microelectronics research, development, manufacturing, and policy.

Dubbed the Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC), the advisory body outlines its goal in notice published in the Federal Register:

“Microelectronics are enabling technologies for industries of the future, like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, 5G and quantum computing,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “With President Biden’s commitment to ensuring that the United States remains a global leader in microelectronics manufacturing and research, we are at a pivotal moment with the opportunity to bolster our economic strength, security and technological standing. This committee will provide the necessary practical, expert advice from industry, academia and government to help us get this right.”

This is just the latest sign that the U.S. in the coming years will continue to decouple its electronic supply chains from outside nations — particularly China and Taiwan. To this point, electronics manufacturers in the U.S. have become increasingly reliant on Eastern nations for semiconductors, contract manufacturing for electronics, and raw materials. As COVID-19 has shown, when large-scale disruptions occur at critical supply chain points, every other link in the chain feels the effects. A robust homeland-based microelectronics industry mitigates — or could potentially outright eliminate — this risk.

Members of the committee have yet to be announced, but according to the notice they will consist of expert leaders coming from a range of organizational sizes and backgrounds (private industry, federal laboratories, academia, etc.). Nominations to the committee will continue on an ongoing basis.