Texas invests $40 million in Sematech center

MARCH 30–AUSTIN, Texas — Texas is putting $40 million into the launch of a center to investigate new semiconductor technologies, a move aimed at keeping the high-tech research consortium International Sematech in the state.

Another $160 million will be sought through federal, state and local sources over five years for the Advanced Materials Research Center. The University of Texas System and other Texas universities will partner in the project, announced Monday at Sematech.

Gov. Rick Perry told The Associated Press that the $40 million grant will come from the Texas Enterprise Fund, formed by the Texas Legislature last year to allow the governor to seal business deals that will create jobs in Texas.

“This is a wise investment for the taxpayers of Texas,” Perry said. “Sematech has been a real economic engine driving technology growth for two decades. In Texas we just simply couldn’t let it slip through our hands.”

Austin-based Sematech, a global consortium of computer chip makers, was being courted aggressively by a number of other states, Perry said. Last year, it signed a $400 million pact with the University at Albany, where research space and clean rooms have been built at Fuller Road and Washington Avenue Extension in Albany to accommodate work on 300 mm silicon wafers.

The agreement doesn’t affect the Albany effort, said Alain Kaloyeros, dean of the School of Nanosciences and Nanoengineering at UAlbany. The Texas project should complement the work in the Capital Region, he said.

“It demonstrates that what we are doing is on the right track,” he said.

Austin competed against dozens of cities to land Sematech in 1988. The consortium has about 500 employees.

“There’s no question that Texas has been good to us,” said Sematech President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Polcari. But, he said, in today’s competitive business environment Sematech would have had to consider the option of doing business in other states without the creation of the new research center.

Sematech’s members include AMD, Hewlett-Packard, Infineon Technologies, IBM, Intel, Motorola, Philips, TSMC and Texas Instruments.

The new Texas research center will be created immediately and will investigate advanced semiconductor and emerging technologies, including nanotechnology and biotechnology. The center is expected to produce more than 4,000 high-skilled jobs over the coming decade. It will be managed by the UT System and Sematech.

UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst joined Perry in making Monday’s announcement. Yudof said creation of the research center will strengthen higher education as well as private-sector business.


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