SMU Picked to Head Up New Technology Hub

Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University | Image by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

The federal government just picked Southern Methodist University to head up a new regional semiconductor supply chain.

The White House announced Monday that Southern Methodist University (SMU) was selected to run one of 31 technology hubs in an initiative to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing and scientific innovation.

“This historic award is a game changer, not only for SMU but also for the entire region,” said Suku Nair, SMU vice provost for research and chief innovation officer, in a statement. “SMU is ready to lead this revolutionary technology effort.”

SMU will oversee the newly designated Texoma Semiconductor Tech Hub. Now, it will move into the planning and development phase, after which it will be in the running for up to $75 million in federal taxpayer grants to implement and accelerate its projects.

The Tech Hubs program was authorized by the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act, which President Joe Biden signed in August 2022, as previously covered by The Dallas Express. The first phase of the program (worth $500 million)n was to announce the funding opportunity in May for projects related to fields such as robotics, natural disaster prevention, biotechnology, and energy efficiency. The second phase will single out a minimum of five Tech Hubs for an implementation grant.

The Tech Hubs program placed a priority on candidates from America’s heartland to boost rural areas through the creation of jobs and “bring the benefits and opportunities of scientific and technological innovation to communities across the country,” the White House’s press release explained.

The program also aims to build a consortium to grow American competitiveness in the field of advanced technological innovation.

For instance, Biden noted at a press conference on Tuesday that the United States had gone from producing 40% of the world’s chips to just over 10%, according to The Dallas Morning News.

“We’re going to invest in critical technologies like biotechnology, critical materials, quantum computing, advanced manufacturing,” Biden said. “The U.S. will lead the world again in innovation across the board.”

Texoma Semiconductor Tech Hub will involve 41 different partners spread across 29 counties in North Texas and Oklahoma in a “fablet”-based semiconductor supply chain that will streamline production from raw wafers to end products. Fablets are “building targeted, accessible labs for electronic design, semiconductor manufacturing, packaging, and testing.”

Such partners include actors from the private industry side — such as Texas Instruments, Lockheed Martin, GlobiTech, and Global Wafers — as well as higher education — such as the University of North Texas, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas, and Baylor University. Government actors involved in the project include the Choctaw Nation, the City of Fort Worth, and the City of Richardson.

The initiative will give yet another boost to North Texas, which already houses some of the most significant players in the semiconductor industry.

“We know how important the semiconductor industry is to the economic health of our country,” said Elizabeth G. Loboa, SMU provost, in a statement. “And workforce development is key to our region’s progress. SMU is thrilled to support both of these critical initiatives through our leadership of the Texoma Semiconductor Tech Hub. This is going to provide jobs and move our country forward.”

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