3rd ‘Future of Semiconductors Forum’ to boost digital economy

This year’s forum follows successful first and second editions, which have led to collaborative research and semiconductor manufacturing efforts.
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The third edition of the Future of Semiconductors Forum will be held in 2024 in Riyadh, hosted by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in partnership with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. The event, scheduled for June 5-6, at the Garage Innovation District in Riyadh, will promote the domestic production of electronic chips and boost the digital economy within Saudi Arabia.

This forum will gather esteemed policymakers, industrial pioneers, experts, and scholars in semiconductor technology. Notable participants include Shuji Nakamura, a Nobel laureate in physics known for his development of blue/green LEDs and violet laser diodes, alongside Kang Wang, who holds a professorship in electrical engineering and computer science and serves as co-director of the Center for Quantum Science and Engineering at UCLA and a professor of electrical engineering at Raytheon Company. Also in attendance will be Steven P. DenBaars from the University of California — Santa Barbara, renowned for holding more than 190 US patents and co-founding the Institute of Engineering Electricity and Electronics alongside four photonics and electronics companies.

Umesh Mishra, dean of the College of Engineering at UCSB, joins the list of participants, as do Ross Jatou, president of semiconductor at Alat Company; Dr. Naveed Sherwani, chairman of the board of directors and CEO of Rapid Silicon Company, co-designer of Intel microprocessor algorithms and Intel Award winner; and Professor Goutam Chattopadhyay, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology.

Dr. Munir Eldesouki, president of KACST, said the forum reflects the goals and priorities set by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the prime minister of Saudi Arabia, in the field of research, development, and innovation. It also plays a significant role in advancing the digital economy in the Kingdom. He added that the event is organized by KACST, which serves as a national laboratory and hub for innovation. Its purpose is to enhance the research, development, and innovation system, expedite technological advancements, and promote the localization of technologies.

Dr. Tony Chan, president of KAUST, praised the forum for its accomplishments in the first and second editions. He noted that the new edition offers promising opportunities to enhance the digital economy, advance research cooperation between various entities, and exchange knowledge about best practices in the electronic chip industry by bringing together the most prominent local and international entities under one roof.

The forum’s purpose is to raise awareness about the significance of localizing the electronic chip industry and its contribution to the growth of the digital economy in the Kingdom. It will also explore potential opportunities for localizing this crucial industry to make the Kingdom a key player in the electronic chip sector. Additionally, the forum seeks to promote research collaboration and sharing best practices in semiconductor development and manufacturing.

Over two days, the forum will delve into various subjects to outline the semiconductor industry’s future trajectory in the Kingdom by exploring the semiconductor value chain, from raw materials to finished microchips. 

Additionally, it will examine the application of this cutting-edge technology in areas like space exploration, quantum technologies, 6G communications, electric vehicles, and integrated sensors to enable smart cities.

The third edition of the forum will announce significant initiatives that bolster Saudi Arabia’s standing in the global semiconductor arena, drive transformation in the Middle East, cultivate talent in this vital sector, and address industry challenges to spur economic growth.

This year’s forum follows successful first and second editions, which have led to collaborative research, advancements, and semiconductor manufacturing efforts. This includes the launch of the Saudi Semiconductors Program, a pioneering regional initiative supporting research and development and qualifying cadres in the field of designing and localizing electronic chips. This program collaborates with 16 Saudi universities and has trained more than 400 researchers and students in microchip design and manufacturing.