Aquino wants to speed up industrialization via semiconductor industry
MANILA, Philippines—Elated by the better-than-expected 7.8-percent GDP growth, President Benigno Aquino III on Friday pushed for an accelerated phase of industrialization to turn the country into a “modern economy,” by harnessing the economic output of the semiconductor industry.
“The road to the Philippines we all dream of starts in places like this,” he said at the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) in Bicutan where he went to inaugurate the DoST’s Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory (Admatel).
“We believe that this is the way to further accelerate the growth of our economy, which, as you have probably heard, grew by 7.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013, making us the fastest-growing economy in Asia,” Mr. Aquino said.
“Innovation is the engine of any modern economy; and one look around the Philippines tells us that we have the natural inventiveness to be one of the world leaders in this regard. What had been lacking in the past, however, was support,” he said.
Mr. Aquino said his administration has nearly doubled the budget of the DoST.
He asked the leaders of the semiconductor industry, who comprised much of the audience on Friday, to continue to put a premium on innovation.
“This will not happen overnight, but if we put a premium on innovation—in dreaming bigger, doing better, and always reaching further with our talents—then it will only be a matter of time until we get there,” he said.
The P350-million (Admatel) is the country’s first microelectronics testing laboratory and is expected to make local electronics industry globally competitive.
“Without doubt, this facility will pull our semiconductors industry up the value chain, and move them closer to their target of becoming a 50-billion-dollar industry by 2016,” Mr. Aquino said in his speech.
Semiconductors and integrated circuits (ICs) serve as the function-controlling “brains” of various electronics, from cell phones to computers to automotives, explained Admatel’s chemical and metallurgical laboratory head Araceli Monsada.
A DoST press statement said that Admatel’s state-of-the-art facilities currently provide “failure analysis and advanced materials characterization,” vital to identifying defects and checking the reliability of these electronic device components.
“They’re very small, so they’re difficult to analyze. It would really need special equipment to observe them at higher magnification, from around 10,000 to 100,000 times. Some companies have failure analysis facilities, but ICs are becoming more complex, so they need a higher level of analytical instruments. The industry cannot afford to invest in these kinds of equipment, and that’s where the government stepped in,” Monsada said.
Monsada said that of the P350 million that the government has invested in Admatel, about P200 million went to procuring the equipment.
Admatel has been providing services to the semiconductor companies since January.
Admatel manager Blessie Basilia said that the 24/7 facility, manned by a 35-person materials science expert workforce, has already serviced about 20 companies.
A fee list handed out at yesterday’s inauguration showed Admatel’s current services ranging from simple microscopic observation costing P2,000, to auger electron spectroscopy costing P32,000.
“Now that this lab is fully operational, companies here will not have to send their products for failure analysis to the United States or Singapore. They can do it here in their own backyard, with the tests conducted by our very own scientists,” the President said.
The Semiconductor Electronics Industry of the Philippines said Philippine-based semiconductor companies spend $9 million to $18 million annually for testing abroad.
Currently, the local semiconductor industry only engages in product assembly, not manufacturing, and captures only 10 percent of the world semiconductor market, which earned $30 billion in 2011.
“With Admatel, we hope to encourage foreign companies and local talents to increase the local content of the [semiconductor] industry, from designing to prototyping to mass production,” said DoST Secretary Mario Montejo.
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