SINGAPORE Malaysian foundry Silterra sealed an agreement this week with some of the country's leading educational institutions that will allow them to gauge the commercial viability of chip designs.
Under the pact, members of Malaysia's Microelectronics Design Consortium, which include the University of Science Malaysia and the University of Technology Malaysia, will be able to carry out verification and fabrication of chip designs at Silterra's fab free of charge.
Silterra CEO Bruce Gray said the agreement was a result of Silterra's determination to "play a catalytic role in moving Malaysia up the semiconductor value chain," adding that it was "imperative" for the country to develop local design capabilities.
Minister of Education Mustapa Mohamed also said Malaysia needed to invest more in R&D to fend off "greater economic competition" from emerging manufacturing hubs like China, India and Vietnam.
According to Gray, the three-year deal will build on Silterra's existing ties with several universities, which have already resulted in the testing of more than 60 designs from local students and lecturers.
A company spokesman said the agreement stipulates that any designs brought to Silterra's fab would remain the property of designers, while any new intellectual property resulting from the pact would be "equally owned by the relevant parties involved."
Moving a design into commercial production will also remain the responsibility of the consortium or university that originally produced it, he added.