Hillsboro to build Oregon’s first microchip ‘innovation center’

Hillsboro plans to build Oregon’s first Semiconductor Center
of Innovation Excellence, using funds secured through a Business Oregon
planning grant.

The announcement from the city says that it will work with
partners like Oregon State University, Intel and the Oregon Business Council,
to establish the center and the programs it will offer.

City officials say it makes a lot of sense for such a center
to be built in Hillsboro, since it’s already the heart of Oregon’s Silicon
Forest of microchip manufacturers and data centers.

“As a national center of semiconductor innovation,
Hillsboro and Oregon are already home to one of the world’s leading clusters of
semiconductor makers,” said Dan Dias, Hillsboro’s economic and community
development director, in the announcement.

He added that there are clear economic benefits to
establishing such an innovation center in Hillsboro.

“With perhaps the world’s top concentration of leading
talent and expertise, it makes sense to work together to develop a pragmatic,
academic, and industry-led applied research and development program to grow and
maintain this advantage well into the future,” Dias said.

Establishing centers like this is one prong of a larger
Oregon Innovation Plan, which is aimed at creating more high-wage jobs and
attracting new talent and capital to the state. The recently formed
Semiconductor Competitiveness Taskforce, a statewide group that includes business
executives and officials from the Hillsboro area, seeks to do this with the microchip
industry specifically.

The end goal is to rebrand Oregon as “the place for
innovation,” according to Business Oregon’s website, and to improve global

The federal government is also supporting that goal. The
recently approved CHIPS Act, passed in Congress in July, bolsters investments
in the U.S. semiconductor industry to try and better position the United States
to compete with countries like China.

The CHIPS Act includes research grants, tax credits for chip
manufacturing and an investment tax credit to encourage more semiconductor

A lot of the funding approved from the CHIPS Act will pass
through Oregon, and both lawmakers and diplomats have targeted Hillsboro in
particular, with press tours to drum up support for the bill and the new economic
framework it supports.

Back in April, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador
Katherine Tai toured Intel’s campus in Hillsboro, alongside Oregon’s two U.S.
senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, to talk about the need for more
semiconductor infrastructure and investments.