HCM City promotes IC, semiconductor industry

The market for integrated circuits (IC) and semiconductors in Vietnam has huge potential, offering great investment opportunities for domestic and foreign enterprises, according to experts.

The market for integrated circuits and semiconductors in Việt Nam has huge potential, offering great investmentopportunities for domestic and foreign enterprises.


The IC industryoffers core support to other industries such as informationtechnology, telecoms, and mechanical and automatic engineering, accordingto Prof Dang Luong Mo, an expert in integrated circuits.

The Ho Chi Minh CityIntegrated Circuit Development Programme promotes investment in minimalfab, a small-scale, low-cost method of manufacturing semi-conductors.

The programme, whichruns from 2013 to 2020, aims to develop theIC industry through training and research programmes and supportto IC manufacturers. 

It focuses on incubatingintegrated-circuit businesses, designing and manufacturing prototypes,promoting semi-conductors and integrated circuit industries, andconstruction of a new fabrication and a design centre.

Dr Toshilo Wakabayashi of Japan’sShinshu University said this minimal fab manufacturing is suited to Vietnamand requires much less investment and space compared to normal manufacturing.

"Minimal fab requires only1/1,000th of the investment that a normal IC manufacturing facility does, andit allows manufacture of chips in a room measuring just a few squaremetres and provides a great learning opportunity for researchers," hesaid.

Under the programme, the SaigonIndustry Corporation is expected to build a US$330 million silicon chipplant, with production capacity of 5,000 to 10,000 wafers per month.

The chip plant was approved in2015 by the then Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as part of HCMCity's hi-tech industry development strategy.

As one of themost developed areas in Vietnam, HCM City has huge potential toattract investors such as Intel Corp in the integrated circuits andsemiconductors sector.

Intel Corporation invested 1billion USD in a micro-chip plant in Sai Gon Hi-Tech Park in 2006, whilethe Japanese-invested Juki Vietnam Co Ltd in 2016 purchased two robot armsfor nearly 200,000 USD for processing work.

It was among the first companiesin Vietnam to use robotic technology to improve the quality of its products.

The robot arms have helped reducethe number of workers at the processing division from 12 to one, and thatperson only has to monitor the robot’s function.

The same trend can alsobe seen among the city’s state agencies.

Binh Dan Hospital in late 2016was the first agency in the health sector to use robots in surgery.

Hospital director Tran Vinh Hungsaid robotic surgeons had improved quality, and the trend wasfollowed by Cho Ray Hospital.

Facing a storm of technologicaladvancement, many State agencies and businesses located in the southern hubhave taken steps to use advanced technologies to improve their performances andproduct quality.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, Chairman of theHCM City Semi-conductor Industry Association (HSIA), said the biggest challengefor both State agencies and private businesses is finding employees to operateand monitor these technologies.

The training centreat Saigon High-Tech Park said that domestic labourers often donot meet companies' standards. 

There are now more than 300,000enterprises in HCM City and the number is forecast to reach 500,000 in 2020,raising the demand for high-quality labour.

The demand for highly skilledworkers has grown at least 20 per cent per year in the last three years,but labour supply cannot meet demand.

A number of companies are lookingfor highly skilled employees to work on urgent projects, but they have tospend a lot of time and money sourcing staff.

The human aspectremains important as people are the “software” that operate andmonitor technologies, Prof. Ho Tu Bao, Director of the John von NeumannInstitute at HCM City National University, said.

“We need to develop a strong baseof human resources who can use technologies to develop valuable,helpful products, or they will stay at the same low level of skills,” he said.-VNS/VNA

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