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Accelerating Innovation in the Automotive Industry: By KLA President and CEO Rick Wallace

May 16, 2023 2 min read

I have just finished an exciting day at imec’s signature event, the ITF-World in Belgium. For those who don’t know, imec is a leading semiconductor research hub, bringing together some of the industry’s top organizations to push the boundaries of what’s possible and unlock the next wave of nano and digital technology innovation. To borrow a line from imec CEO Luc Van den hove, this year’s event was focused on what he referred to as skyrocketing collaboration.

In keeping with the theme, as part of my presentation I announced The Semiconductor Talent and Automotive Research Initiative – or STAR – a new collaboration we launched with imec that will focus on developing the talent base and infrastructure necessary to accelerate advanced semiconductor applications for the automotive industry.

Earlier this year, the Michigan STAR Initiative signed an initial memorandum of understanding (MOU) with founding members General Motors, University of Michigan, Washtenaw Community College and Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), along with KLA and imec.

The Michigan STAR Initiative builds on the complementary strengths of all the partners. For almost 40 years, imec has driven collaboration and scale with researchers, technologists and practitioners from across the semiconductor industry. KLA is the industry leader in metrology and process control equipment and has a longstanding history working in the auto industry, helping to deliver zero defects on semiconductors to drive advancements in safety and security, electrification, autonomous driving and ADAS.

In North America, the University of Michigan is considered one of the premier technology research institutions in the U.S., with a particular strength in engineering, and as one of the leading automakers, General Motors has publicly committed to additional electrification of vehicles and other transportation innovations. Washtenaw Community College is fueling the semiconductor manufacturing talent pipeline and is part of the CHIPs for America Advisory Committee, and MEDC helps connect the public and private sectors and drives state-level investment and workforce development programs.

The STAR Initiative is an important step in driving sustained innovation in the automotive industry. Technological advancement on many fronts is essential, as is talent development across the automotive and semiconductor ecosystems. Supercomputing is hitting the road, and we all believe this investment will help deliver newer, more powerful chips to automakers at a pace and scale that will keep up with demand.

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