High-level executives from Foxconn, Micron, and AMD are gathering this week in the home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a conference aimed at attracting investments into India’s emerging chip industry. The Indian government’s ambition is to position the country as a major semiconductor manufacturing hub, competing with industry leaders like Taiwan.
Modi will inaugurate the annual SemiconIndia conference in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, on Friday (July 28). Speakers at the three-day event include Young Liu, Chairman of Foxconn; Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO of Micron; and Mark Papermaster, CTO of Advanced Micro Devices.
The demand for chips is soaring, which means that the local market is projected to reach $80 billion by 2028, nearly four times its current size of $23 billion.
Despite Modi’s efforts, progress has been slow. Last year, the government unveiled a $10-billion plan to support domestic chip manufacturing, garnering interest from companies like Foxconn and local conglomerate Vedanta Ltd. However, none of these proposals have come to fruition.
This conference comes shortly after Foxconn withdrew from a $19.5-billion chips joint venture with Vedanta, saying that “the project was not moving fast enough.” Foxconn has since opted to pursue its chip ventures independently.
Two other consortiums, one involving Israel’s Tower Semiconductor, had previously announced plans to invest $3 billion each, but these proposals have also hit roadblocks.
The government has recently extended another invitation for companies to apply for chip incentives. One promising development is Micron’s announcement in June that it will invest $825 million to construct its first factory in Gujarat, focused on testing and packaging chips rather than manufacturing.
At the conference venue, Micron showcased chip samples and provided QR codes linking to job openings in Gujarat for technicians and wafer dicing process engineers.
While the SemiconIndia conference draws delegates from 23 countries, India’s reputation as a semiconductor manufacturer has yet to be firmly established. Investors face challenges such as slow approvals from various levels of government and a lack of a reliable supply chain for raw materials.
Arun Mampazhy, former India manager of US-based chipmaker GlobalFoundries, emphasised that India still needs to prove itself as a viable destination for chip giants to set up operations, explaining the cautious approach by global giants.
“India is still not a proven ground. Which explains the scepticism of global chip giants to come here and set shop,” he said. CNBCTV18