Semiconductor working group launched to advocate for industry priorities

A microchip surrounded by other components and tools.
SILICAN brings together industry experts and organizations to meet challenges

Semiconductor industry experts and organizations have formed a new working group called SILICAN: the Semiconductor Industry Leadership and Innovation Canada Action Network.

SILICAN brings together the Council of Canadian Innovators, CMC Microsystems, Optonique, ISEQ, Canada’s Semiconductor Council, Alliance of Semiconductor Innovation Canada, the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, and the Canadian Innovation Network.

SILICAN will work with federal and provincial governments to advocate for semiconductor industry priorities and co-develop a made-in-Canada action plan for strategic leadership in the global semiconductor value chain.

“Canada can play a key role in the future of the global semiconductor industry.”
—Benjamin Bergen,
President, Council of Canadian Innovators

Canada has a deep history in the chip industry, and was once considered a leader in the space. The world faced a persistent shortage of chips since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Samsung, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of semiconductors, has predicted a large jump in profit as the shortage continues because of lingering pandemic effects, the Russia-Ukraine war, and rising United States-China tensions.

The move comes as Canada positions itself as a leader in the semiconductor industry, the federal government collaborating with the United States to create what the new group characterizes as a strong, environmentally responsible, and resilient North American critical-minerals supply chain.

According to the group, SILICAN member organizations are committed to working collaboratively with federal and provincial governments to drive growth and investment in Canada’s semiconductor industry.

SILICAN plans to hold a kickoff event this summer, bringing together government and industry partners.

“Canada can play a key role in the future of the global semiconductor industry,” said Benjamin Bergen, President of the Council of Canadian Innovators, one of the founding SILICAN partner organizations.

“As key parts of the global semiconductor industry return to North America, Canada has a tremendous opportunity to grow strong, globally competitive companies and become an attractive investment destination at every step in the semiconductor value chain,” Bergen said.

RELATED: Strathera closes $20 million CAD Series A to commercialize semiconductor timing tech

Madison Rilling, executive director of Optronique Canada, said that Canada needs to be smart and work with North American partners to plan its growth in key parts of the industry, by making smart investments, ensuring access to top talent, and by recognizing the importance of Canadian-owned IP as the foundation for growing domestic tech businesses.

As part of the Canada-US agreement in the 2022 US CHIPS and Science Act, the two countries will facilitate investment to promote secure and resilient semiconductor supply chains, creating jobs in both countries. Among other things, the CHIPS and Science Act will boost American semiconductor research, development, and production.

The Canadian federal government committed to provide up to $250 million CAD in 2022 for semiconductor projects from the Strategic Innovation Fund in the near term.

Following Biden’s visit to Canada this past March, Ottawa-based Ranovus secured $36 million CAD through the Canadian federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund. The funds will help support a $100-million project to advance domestic production and manufacturing of semiconductor products and services.

RELATED: Canadian government ups semiconductor focus, invests $36 million in Ranovus

SILICAN is not the only group formed around semiconductors. In 2021, a group of Canadian tech-sector stakeholders launched a national Semiconductor Council, mandated to make Canada a global hub for semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing.

Bergen added that for the last several months, the group has been heavily engaged in conversations about semiconductor production and the shifting global value chains for this critical technology component.

“There are quite a few like-minded organizations who are also having these conversations. For clarity and co-ordination, and to avoid working at cross-purposes, we felt that it made sense to pull together under one banner and create a unified point of contact for our engagement with government, and that’s what led to the creation of SILICAN,” Bergen said.

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

0 replies on “Semiconductor working group launched to advocate for industry priorities”