The "disruptive new science" should have it's share of attention, but close to earth start-ups do bigger success. The biggest progress in SoC industry in last decade was not in "disruptive" areas, but in SoCs for low-end consumer electronics and went largely unnoticed.
Only Govt. / public funded R&D can keep the fire burning in obscure areas and keep disruptive new science from getting suppressed by vested interests.
Though T. J. Rodgers does keep rolling with the punches ( P-SoC ), he seems to think too highly of his contributions. After all he is still walking on the path created by others like Bob Noyce that was first charted with Govt. / Taxpayer money.
I will disagree, the profit IS certainly a motive for Chinese chip companies. If you will make your homework and try to research what are the best selling and quickest growing chip companies in PRC's domestic market, you will see that there are no state funded companies in the top.
A ~20 out of top 50 mainland China's chip companies reached multiple of 3 of tangible book value within less than 3 years since their start of operations, which is quite fast in comparison to what we see here.
I can only agree with you in the point that there is no opportunity for conventional types of investments in China as PRC's legal environment is implicitly disallowing foreign VCs operations.
Not sure I can agree with your statement about IoT, in fact I believe the "Things" are mostly about items consumers DON'T purchase but are part of the infrastructure like vending machines, parking and utility meters etc., and certainly the Apples of the world aren't going to be (very) involved designing the occasional "connected" refrigerator that needs to ask for the filter on the icemaker to be replaced. The real challenge with IoT will be REAL good security for next to no cost, if we averaged it across the industry I wonder how much was spent per PC before the industry came up with the "kind of decent" security we have now? IoT security will certainly have to be an order of magnitude better for a few percent of the cost, that'll be the real challenge and even funding for THAT will be darned hard to come up with, it's just that if we don't there'll be "Target-sized" security breaches of everyone's electric meters all over the media every week or so until it gets fixed correctly.
The wealth is now in the vertical system play and the wealthy leaders in this space have an opportunity to capture innovation with a spin-in approach. It also makes sense with the trend towards specialisation - they chose the innovations that meet their very specific needs. There can be no Internet of Things without the Things. Start-ups need to look to the Apples and Microsofts as new venture money and these behemoths need to embrace the best of the start-ups as spin-ins.
I know of one that has been in development for years and has product launch on March 5th, but remains in stealth mode prior. I believe it would clearly evidence a counter argument. If possible to contact me directly I can discuss with you prior to launch?
The decline of VC in semiconductors is not new, VC companies look for the big fast reward, whether dot.com or cloud risk is OK as long as there's a potential for big fast returns. Semiconductors is too mature now, too much work for too slow a return. There is clearly room for innovation with the diminishing return of improvements from shinking geometries.
If the hypothesis is that semiconductor innovation requires VC investment in semiconductor manufacturing, I disagree. I believe that besides a huge increase of R&D by the larger existing semiconductor providers, a new model of innovation is the proliferation of small IP developers with bright new ideas. Many won't make it, but some offer large returns as their licensee portfolio grows or they get gobbled by a large semiconductor market leader.
Today you may hear about CeRAM. And as a biased promoter of this technology, I invite you to take a look at symetriscorp web site. Why did I switch from FeRAM to CeRAM. FeRAMs can be further scale but CeRAMs are already here to produce a serious game changer in nonvolatile memories: CeRAM is an RRAM that uses Many-Body Physics - yes, that confusing world for those who only studied semiconductor and simple band theory and go around thinking that everything is a semiconductor. These guys are in the top positions in the Moore's Law based Semiconductor Companies. They do not understand that there has never really been a Semiconductor Based NVM. Shocking? yes, nonvolatility requires hysteresis of something inside the material: In FeRAM/FRAMs it is the polarization of ions; in STTR, is the polarization of spins, in FLASH, is the interface polarization of trapped charge in the floating gate, and in RRAMs of the filament type, including CBRAM, it is the local polarization of charge due to structural deformations between the filament and the electrodes - it may be charge trap dominated or just redox reactions. Let us not forget the other strutural changes device in the infamous PCM and the "Memrsitors".
Since there are only three intrinsic material components in nature (as visibly demonstrated in Maxwell's equation) - conductivity, dielectric constant and magnetic permeability (R,C,L), we have to look for HYSTERESIS (zero field/voltage with latent storage) in these properties. FeRAM/FRAM used C, STTRAM, L, and RRAMs and CeRAMs use sigma (conductivity). Now sigma is one of those size fits all grossly misunderstood properties. And, when sigma goes from zero (insulator) to a finite value (Metal like), everyone has a pet theory - and "filaments" have many poetic theoretical descriptions. But, Physicist for exactly 50 years (1963-2013) know what I am talking about. Metal-Insulator transitions that modify conductivity can be taylored to be essentially quantum switches with incredible speeds and low power. And, being quantum in a very fundamental way (the control of 1 electron entering and leaving a single orbital, and thus violating band theory drastically (known since 1937)), there is a chance that switches at 10's of femtoseconds speed with essentially extremely low power exists. For now, we can use these 1-2 masks devices with 100% CMOS friendliness for NVMs - they are simple to make have these bare (no high nodes done yet) characteristics: Storage Temperature of a Memory state= >400C;current density at operation: 3000A/cm2 (can be adjusted higher); Reading endurance - Virtually endless (tested to 1E12, no change); writing endurance: hard to measure but over 1E11 is predicted (hard to measure because of large areas in our devices -to low impedance for pulse testing) and operating temperatures from 4K (-260C) to 150 C (or more) - that is OPERATING, not just storing.
So, just like the individuals in the panel missed ferroelectrics when I wrote the first proposal in 1983, they may miss this one too. Why? because they are advised by old Detroit style know it alls that have a hammer and every problem is a nail. I spent 6 years developing the technology of CeRAM (Correlated electrons RAM) with my team and achieved issued patents issued world wide. Now is time to go into development. Now we will start to publish. Yes, it can do array only, 3D embodiment and it is over many materials platform. It is contact agnostic (Not just Platinum) and can be made at 250 C ALD deposition. Never heard of it? ask your CTO to explain Many-Body electron-electron interactions as the basis of switching and storage in transition metal oxides. If he can't, you are in Detroit in the 70's. Innovation is only true with Science- anything else brings only one or two generations of devices.