EE380 Computer Systems Colloquium: Realizing the next growth wave for semiconductors

Realizing the next growth wave for semiconductors: A new approach to enable innovative startups
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - 4:15pm to 5:30pm
Gates B03
Dan Ambrust (Silicon Catalyst)
Abstract / Description: 

The semiconductor industry has evolved from its early days of startups and spinouts financed by venture capital to an era of specialization associated with the rise of foundries and fabless companies to today's structure characterized by consolidation and dominance by a few leaders in each of the product areas. Looking forward, there is anticipation that a new wave of innovation associated with key trends in energy, personal health care, autonomous transportation, mobility, and home automation, generally referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT), is upon us.

To realize these optimistic expectations for meaningful growth, innovation and entrepreneurship generally associated with startups will be even more crucial. However, all of the indicators ranging from IPO's, venture capital investment, and organic industry growth rates strongly suggest that new business models are needed. Taking inspiration from the robust incubation and acquisition activities in software and biotech, a new approach to assist startups pursuing solutions in silicon is being pursued. Its unique focus is on the difficult problems entrepreneurs and new companies encounter when attempting to innovate in semiconductors --namely the challenge of raising sufficient funding and obtaining the appropriate design, prototyping, and test capabilities to move from concept to working prototypes.

In this context, a new early-stage startup incubator called Silicon Catalyst is being launched. The objective is to stimulate a vital and robust startup community by connecting the interests of the industry stakeholders, ranging from systems and product-based companies to the enabling supply chain to a network of mentors experienced in assisting startups, and to investors who are looking for attractive returns and timely graduation and acquisition.

This presentation will describe the key financial and innovation trends of the semiconductor industry, whose advances underpin a broad set of industries that depend on ever more useful and cost-effective electronics. For context, comparisons with the structure and evolution of related industries will be made. Building upon this framework, the business model and novel approach using lean innovation principles that is being taken by Silicon Catalyst will be described in context of the global trends emerging from extending Moore's law over the next decade and driving innovations for the next growth IoT growth wave.

Daniel Armbrust is currently engaged with Silicon Catalyst, an incubator for semiconductor solutions startups where he is responsible for acquiring strategic partners to invest and mentor new companies and spinouts prior to their initial seed investments or acquisition.
He most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer of SEMATECH from 2009 until April of 2014, with the responsibility to lead the consortium's advanced technology R&D programs in lithography, front-end processes, interconnect, metrology, and SEMATECH's manufacturing collaboration initiative International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI). During his tenure, SEMATECH significantly expanded its membership and contributions throughout the supply chain including materials, equipment, packaging, fabless and EDA companies. In addition, SEMATECH renewed its partnership with New York State and CNSE as a integral component of its funding model.

Armbrust previously held various technical, management and executive positions for over 25 years at IBM, culminating in his tenure as Vice President of 300mm Semiconductor Operations where he was responsible for the operation of IBM's 300mm fab in East Fishkill, New York, which develops leading edge technologies with IBM's alliance partners and manufactures products for IBM and OEM customers. His leadership was marked by successful efforts to improve operating efficiency, establish and lead collaborations within the industry, and build strong technical teams.

Prior to his role as Vice President, Armbrust served as Director of 300mm Engineering and Strategic Client Executive for IBM's Systems and Technology Group. He began his career at IBM in 1983 and progressed through a variety of assignments in process development, manufacturing and client engagement.

Armbrust earned a bachelor's degree in ceramic science and engineering from Pennsylvania State University as well as a master's of science degree in manufacturing systems engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.