Australia is not a country known for its chip production, but it felt the shortages as much as the rest of us. Despite the shortages being less severe for the country, however it still mostly relies on imported semiconductors.
The current semiconductor industry is quite small, consisting of local companies and branches of some larger manufacturers.
One report from 2020 gave a blunt prognosis of how the Australian chip landscape looked, and how it could improve:
How it is
According to the report there are ‘pockets’ of talent all over Australia, and the potential for it to grow substantially. However, the report authors said the sector lacked the depth and coordination it needed to grow.
The ever-increasing need for electronic components globally means that every country needs to step up their game. Australia is no different. Although total self-sufficiency would be unattainable, that is the same for even semiconductor superpower countries. They do, however, need to increase their capacity for electronic component development and manufacturing.
Following establishing domestic sources of semiconductor components, Australia needs to tackle market sectors relevant to them domestically. This way, it is dealing with both the strategic and economic aspects of the shortages.
How to do it
The report details several steps to help the Australian semiconductor market grow and prosper. The first piece of advice is to attract established chip manufacturers to start setting up shop domestically. After that, home-grown chip companies need a boost to expand. The final recommendation is to establish new semiconductor companies.
Australia has been looking into all 3 of these methods, and some international companies have shown interest in recent years. But when it comes to the huge funding needed to finance the moves, international partners have been less keen.
Time and money
Because there’s currently such a lack of a domestic market, and other markets are so far removed for Australia, there’s some hesitation. This could change in the future, if Australia can garner more interest and, more importantly, funding.
The 2020 report recommended the Australian government invest $1.5 billion to establish domestic industry.
Australia faces many obstacles including financing, a lot of them time-sensitive. The next few years will be crucial for the country, and the world will be watching.
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