BENGALURU — The India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), an Indian trade body representing semiconductor and electronics company, announced the setting up of an accelerator for fabless semiconductor start-ups designing chips for local use products like digital energy meters, LED lighting, smart cards, rural broadband and IoT solutions.

Said to be the first-of-its-kind venture in the Indian semiconductor sector, the Semiconductor Fabless Accelerator Lab (SFAL) would help create a robust infrastructural structure that would support and incubate start-ups in their early stages and would also expedite present fabless SMEs to the next level by facilitating access to funds, mentors, and the market.

The accelerator would be looking at nurturing 20 start-ups over the next three years which will eventually reach 50 in five years. The Karnataka state government has invested $3 million (Rs 21.5 crore) in the accelerator, whose investible corpus would go up to $8 million (Rs 56 crore) in five years. It would also have the required infrastructure to build intellectual property in the area of semiconductors.

The Indian electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM) industry is at a huge inflection point. From being predominantly consumption-driven, the Indian ESDM industry holds potential to become a design-led manufacturing industry. While India lost out to the world in semiconductor manufacturing, the country has an ecosystem of semiconductor design firms, largely global companies such as Intel, Cadence and Texas Instruments who have set up their software development base. The accelerator looks to tap at this ecosystem to build a local base of semiconductor start-ups who can design chips for India-specific requirements.

Bengaluru has become home to innovation, invention and entrepreneurship. “We are seeing a huge uptake towards ESDM and how it is contributing to creating millions of employment opportunities. The setting up of the accelerator will mark our efforts to cultivate this ecosystem, create a favourable market to inculcate the fabless ecosystem, and encourage manufacturing not only in Karnataka but across the country.” said Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, IT, BT and S&T, Karnataka.

“We have a vision to make India as the global hub of electronics system design and manufacturing by 2025. In this direction, we conducted a significant amount of research and realized quite early that design-led manufacturing is the right solution for promoting the growth of electronics industry in India. IESA has promoted several incubation centers and centers of excellences (CoEs) across India and mainly in Karnataka state. This latest initiative is aimed at promoting the ecosystem to encourage innovation and manufacturing in the ESDM industry,” said Anil Kumar Muniswamy, Chairman, IESA.

“Our aim is to incubate 3-4 companies in the new facility by March 2019. The accelerator lab fills a critical gap in our ESDM ecosystem that will prepare us as a country to capitalise on the mega trends unleashed by intelligent electronics,” Rajesh Ram Mishra - president, IESA said.

An earlier IESA report revealed that the Indian semiconductor component market is estimated to see a huge market growth of $32.35 billion by 2025. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.1% from 2018 to 2025.

— Sufia Tippu is a freelance tech journalist based in India contributing to EE Times India