Friday, April 19, 2024

DIGITAL INFLUENCER | Semiconductor industry growth potential amid global dynamics

The Philippine semiconductor industry, a key player in the global electronics value chain, is experiencing a period of significant transformation, influenced by both local dynamics and global trends. The nation’s semiconductor industry has been gaining momentum, bolstered by a strong electronics export performance.

According to the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. (SEIPI), Philippine electronics exports increased by 11.79% from June 2022 to June 2023, reaching $4.25 billion. This growth, particularly in sectors like medical/industrial instrumentation, reflects the nation’s evolving capacity in this crucial field.

The country hosts around 500 semiconductor and electronics companies, including top global chipmakers, signifying its substantial impact on the industry.

The electronics industry significantly contributes to the Philippine economy, not just in export earnings but also in employment, providing jobs to more than three million Filipinos.

Global challenges impacting the Philippines

The industry is navigating a landscape marked by chip shortages, supply chain complexities, geopolitical conflicts, and economic inflation. These global challenges resonate within the Philippines, impacting production, export strategies, and overall growth.

SEIPI maintains a $49-billion export target for 2023, matching the record high of 2022. This target reflects the impact of global slowdown and geopolitical issues, including the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas conflicts, which have affected the supply chain and global demand.

Statista Market Forecast projects the Philippine semiconductor market to grow by 11.17% from 2023 to 2027, reaching a market volume of $9.53 billion by 2027.

According to Accenture’s “The Pulse of the Semiconductor Industry” survey report, semiconductors are at the heart of burgeoning fields like the metaverse, sustainability-focused technologies, mobility solutions, and digital health innovations.

The industry will be a pivotal player in shaping future technological landscapes. Artificial intelligence (AI) will also play a crucial role in the industry’s evolution. Its integration into semiconductor development is not just enhancing chip capabilities but also driving the industry toward more sustainable and efficient production processes.

Competitions fostering innovation and talent

Founded in 2009, Xinyx Design, a 100% Filipino-owned company, specializes in integrated circuit (IC) design. IC design involves creating electronic circuits on small semiconductor chips, essential in modern electronics.

The competition “Xynyx Unlocked”, themed “From Problems to Possibilities: Building Tomorrow’s Cities Today,” aimed to highlight the crucial role of IC design in urban development. It drew 58 entries from across the nation, emphasizing the importance of this growing industry.

Charade Avondo, president and general manager of Xinyx Design, emphasized the competition’s significance: “Xinyx Unlocked is our way to promote IC Design as a promising, innovative, and fast-growing career path that our next generation of graduates need to be aware of. Filipino engineers are world-class and always in demand. We need to elevate the field of engineering and develop design thinking in our students so that we can compete in the regional and global market.”.

The winners of the “Xinyx Unlocked” competition exemplify the innovative spirit necessary for industry advancement. The grand prize winner, First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities (FAITH), with their project “GESTULEARN: Hand Tracking and Gesture Recognition Technology for Assistive Teaching in Special Education,” demonstrates the application of IC design in practical and transformative ways.

Similarly, the runners-up showcased their talent in utilizing IC design, Mindanao State University – General Santos (MSU-GenSan) for their “FPGA-Based Near-Infrared Glucometer with App Integration” and Caraga State University (CSU) for their “Monitoring System for Floating Solar Platform.”

The grand prize winners received P70,000 and a monthly stipend of P10,000 for two academic years.

The competition’s intent went beyond just monetary rewards; it aimed to stimulate interest among the youth in microelectronics, a vital industry for modern urban development.

Strategic importance of semiconductors

The global semiconductor market is projected to grow significantly, with the Philippines expected to play a crucial role in this expansion. The country’s increasing involvement in the semiconductor value chain positions it as a strategic ally in the global chip race.

The Philippine government has been instrumental in nurturing this sector through various strategies, including infrastructure development and workforce upskilling. These initiatives aim to enhance the country’s position in the semiconductor industry, meeting global demands and technological advancements.

Challenges and opportunities

While the Philippine semiconductor industry is on a growth trajectory, it faces several challenges. These include the need for continued investment in research and development, infrastructure upgrades, and the cultivation of a skilled workforce capable of meeting the evolving demands of the industry.

However, these challenges also present opportunities for growth and innovation.

Role of education and competitions in industry development

Educational institutions and competitions like “Xinyx Unlocked” are essential in addressing these challenges. By fostering a culture of innovation and providing practical experience in IC design and other related fields, they help prepare the next generation of engineers and innovators.

These initiatives also serve to bridge the gap between academia and industry, ensuring that the skills developed are aligned with industry needs.

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