The Semiconductor industry worldwide generated a revenue of 265 billion dollars in 2007. The consumer electronics industry building on semiconductors generated a revenue in excess of a trillion dollars in 2007. The revenues of this industry have been growing steadily over the past several decades despite market fluctuations. The share of Egypt in this industry is very limited. With the correct planning and vision, this industry can be grown significantly in Egypt increasing the national income and opening high-tech jobs in Egypt and the region that can move the country up the value chain.
The electronics has three phases for developing a product. The first phase is designing the electronics system whether it is an integrated circuit or an embedded system. The second phase is the fabrication (manufacturing) of the electronic system. The third phase is to test the electronic system to make sure it meets the functional requirements before deploying it. Phase two is typically outsourced to few foundries around the world such as TSMC and UMC in Taiwan where the chips are manufactured and sent back to the designer. This fabrication outsourcing trend is due to the very expensive cost of building a foundry of few billion dollars and the short life-time of a foundry of 3-5 years before a scaled down technology replaces the existing one. Hence, few foundries are maintained worldwide and shared by all design and production companies. The other two phases are very low in investment. The first phase (design) only requires CAD tools, computers, and skilled human resources. The third phase (testing) requires affordable measurement equipment and skilled human resources.
Another reason most companies (even in developed countries like the US) outsource the manufacturing phase, is that most of the money is made by the owner of the design, not by the manufacturer. In 2007, less than 20 billion dollars were made by all foundries in revenue as compared to the 265 billion dollars’ revenue for the semiconductor industry. Hence, the overwhelming trend is to have fabless companies. This trend is particularly suitable to the region and Egypt since the investment is low and the main barrier for entry is knowledge and human resources.
Our mission is to contribute to the development of human resources, knowledge, and technology essential for Egypt and the region, to secure a share in the fast-growing global electronics industry and economy
The model of NISC follows the approach of focusing on the design and testing phases of electronic product development while outsourcing the manufacturing phase. The major (Obstacle) bottleneck for these two phases is the existence of a critical mass of highly skilled and trained human resources. Therefore, a major part of the NISC mission is to develop the required human resources at the highest level of preparation and excellence and in the appropriate numbers. Besides preparing human resources skilled in the general electronics area, it is part of the mission of NISC to develop niche areas of excellence that will distinct Egypt and give the country a competitive edge and move the industry up the value chain. Finally, the center’s mission includes helping build the reputation of Egypt in the electronics area through seminal publications, patents, and startups.
Our Vision is to be a major hub for the electronics industry in the region, promoting its growth and sustainability
The vision of the center has short and long terms components. In the short term, Egypt can penetrate this area quickly by having qualified people who can do the job as good as anyone, in time, and relatively cheaper. This is similar to the Indian model for software. In the long term, expertise in niche areas should be developed and retained similar to the Korean model which now has very good reputation in the area of semiconductor memories and India which is trying to form niches now in the software area. These areas have to be highly knowledge based so that there is some barrier for entry that will enable us to establish a lead and maintain it. In addition, these areas, have to have future growth prospects. The Ph.D. program will be used to develop these niche areas. We have identified the following three areas as niche areas to grow in: 1- High performance integrated circuit design, 2- CAD tools for integrated circuits, 3- Micro-Electro-Mechanical systems (MEMs), and 4- Electronics for energy applications.