India reopens bids for $10-bn chip plan


NEW DELHI : India has reopened applications for its ambitious chipmaking programme after the three aspirants, who applied in 2022, failed to qualify for the government’s financial incentives. The India Semiconductor Mission (ISM), which is implementing the $10-billion programme, will accept fresh applications from 1 June, allowing both new and existing applicants to submit their proposals.

The ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) said in a statement that the Modified Semicon India Programme will remain open till December 2024, unlike the last time when it was open for a brief period of 45 days.

“All applicants who had applied under the scheme for setting up of Semiconductor Fabs and Scheme for setting up of Display Fab (earlier schemes) are allowed to submit applications under Modified Scheme for setting up of Semiconductor Fabs and Modified Scheme for setting up of Display Fabs after incorporating suitable modification in their proposals,” the statement said.

Applications for Design Linked Incentive (DLI) Scheme will also remain open till December 2024. The ministry added that 26 applications have been received under the DLI scheme, and five have been approved.

Responding to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday that Vedanta-Foxconn, the leading applicant among last year’s three applicants, would not get government approval, Union IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted: “The first window for more expensive 28nm fabs was kept open for 45 days only in January 2022 and received three applicants that were evaluated by ISM and its advisory group. The strategy now is also encouraging mature nodes of >40nm – current and new players may apply afresh in various nodes that they have the technology for. It is expected that some of the current applicants will reapply, and new fresh investors will also apply,” the minister said.

The lower the nanometer (nm) measure, the more advanced and expensive the chip. For instance, a 28nm chip consumes less power, heats less, and performs better than a 40nm chip.

Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources Plc and the world’s largest contract manufacturer, Foxconn’s semiconductor arm, had announced a joint $20 billion investment for a semiconductor fab plant, display-fab plant, and outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) plant in Gujarat’s Dholera. The bulk of the investment was meant for the semiconductor fab plant.

International Semiconductor Consortium (ISMC), a joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based Next Orbit Ventures and Israel’s Tower Semiconductor, under acquisition by Intel and Singapore’s IGSS Ventures were the other two that had put in their applications. Mint reported earlier this year ISMC would resubmit its application under the modified scheme where the subsidy was raised to 50% from 30% earlier, and manufacturing of nodes above 40nm was permitted.

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Updated: 01 Jun 2023, 12:03 AM IST

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