India will get chip industry, says Tower CEO
Ellwanger said that although a previous consortium in which Tower (Migdal Haemek, Israel) was a partner, had collapsed, India was still a possible location for chip manufacturing.
In an interview with eeNews Europe Ellwanger did not disclose whether Tower is still involved in any particular projects in India, although the company has recently acknowledged a project in China. The company announced it was involved in a scheme with Tacoma Technology Ltd. to bring up a 200mm wafer fab in Nanjing China (see Tower confirms Chinese fab project). There is the possibility of a follow on fab designed to run 300mm wafers.
“There can be slowness in any country with legislators and bureaucrats, but is India off the table? Absolutely not! At some point, there will be a semiconductor industry in India. Prime Minister Modi is an amazing person. We always have irons in the fire and India is a big value proposition for us,” Ellwanger was quoted saying in the interview (see CEO interview: Specialty foundry Tower gains momentum).
Next: Tower linked to Mumbai money
Tower has been linked to a plan being floated by Mumbai-based venture capital firm Next Orbit Ventures to finance three wafer fabs in India. One would be focused on digital, one on analog and the third on solar cell production. Tower has been linked to the setting up of an analog fab (see VC wants to reboot Indian wafer fab plans).
Tower’s previous foray into India dates back to 2012 with much bureaucratic wrangling but no substantial progress. Tower was in a consortium with IBM and Indian infrastructure conglomerate Jai Prakash Associates. Jai Prakash was to supply the cash; IBM was to supply the process technology; and Tower would have provided foundry management.
In the interview Ellwanger said: “We were strongly involved in India for the building of a 300mm wafer fab. The government slowed it to a three-phase process and with that slow-down the project came a point where the original lead partner could no longer meet the financial commitment.” In addition IBM Microelectronics was subsequently acquired by another foundry GlobalFoundries Inc. (Milpitas, Calif.).
Ellwanger also said in the interview: “The main learning isn’t about India. It was about not having a binding MOU [memorandum of understanding]. In the case of China there was a binding MOU signed in July 2016, and we have now received initial money this year.”
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