While Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are dominating the global memory market, the academic-industrial connection of the semiconductor field is currently more than insufficient. This is because the research & development (R&D) support has been decreasing due to the idea that “companies are responsible for semiconductors.” The new R&D budget came down to around 10 billion won (US$9 million) last year.
As a result, a vicious circle of “a decrease in the number of new professors and engineers, leading to manpower shortage in industrial field to worsen semiconductor ecosystem” has been continued with no sign of halting. The trickle-down effect in the component material and device area due to prosperity of semiconductor has been exclusively possessed by foreign companies. In an effort to solve this problem, Samsung Electronics has announced a plan that includes Samsung’s 10 billion won support per year, which is two and a half times the amount of current support. Based on the support, an expansion of academic-industrial projects is expected to secure research manpower, a post stone and a pillar of the industry.
The support is given in three ways: Research support for basic science, such as physics, mathematics and chemistry; hiring more professors and increasing scholarship for Masters and Ph.D. students; and free provision of Samsung’s advanced equipment infrastructure. An omnidirectional support for strengthening the infrastructure is given, from the research support to overcome the limits of semiconductor granulation process to the provision of advanced research equipment. It has been evaluated that Samsung has shown its will to do a priming work to solve the problem, where it takes much time and money to produce research outcomes while the actual support is far insufficient.
In relation with it, Samsung has established the “Academic-Industrial Cooperation Center” in the Device Solution Division at the company to be responsible exclusively for the academic-industrial programs, expanding the cooperation with other universities down the road.
The semiconductor businesses were very pleased to hear the news. An employee in the business said, “In the semiconductor industry, Korea’s share is only 3.5%, meaning that the profit of prosperity is focused on foreign companies. This structure needs to break,” adding, “I hope this support becomes a turning point for the industrial upgrade.” Professor Song Yong-ho at department of electronic engineering at Hanyang University said, “The semiconductor ecosystem has been weakened as we see from the non-memory semiconductor that nobody knows about, feeble front back industry, and a lack of R&D manpower,” pointing out that “to accelerate in the competition for preoccupancy of the future technology like AI-related semiconductor, we must expand our pool of talented manpower.”