Today, leading global fabless chipmaker MediaTek Inc., [joined by Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves, Indiana Secretary of Commerce Bradley B. Chambers, and Purdue College of Engineering's Dr. Mung Chiang] announced their commitment to accept a state transition assistance package from the Indiana Economic Development Commission (IEDC) to support its very first Midwest semiconductor chip design center in West Lafayette, Indiana. MediaTek also shared its intention to create a new research partnership with Purdue to collaborate on engineering talent development and new research on next-generation computing and communications chip design. The news was shared with senior leaders, other international investors and policymakers assembled in National Harbor, Maryland for the 2022 SelectUSA Investment Summit.
This novel partnership in Indiana represents a new U.S. growth model for MediaTek USA; outside the traditional centers of gravity for chip design. "We believe strongly that being in Indiana means we'll have access to some of the best engineering talent in the world," said Dr. Kou-Hung Lawrence Loh, Corporate Senior Vice President of MediaTek Inc. and President of MediaTek USA, Inc. "Not just at Purdue, but West Lafayette is only four hours away from nearly a dozen of the top engineering schools in the country. In the post pandemic world, top candidates tell us they want to be closer to home, near family and they want to have a real house and great schools. Indiana offers all that and more."
"This agreement is a significant milestone for MediaTek and for international semiconductor collaboration. We're excited because it builds enduring positive exchanges between our engineers, Purdue students, faculty and other technology companies in the region," explained Dr. Loh. "We are happy to take this important and historic first step for MediaTek today, which formalizes a collegial and cooperative relationship with Purdue University and deepens our ties to the State of Indiana. In addition, supporting the hiring, retention, employment and career advancement of engineers within the semiconductor industry, is critical to helping with the talent pipeline from undergraduate to PhD."
The idea for a new design center for MediaTek was pitched in 2021, when Indiana's Governor Eric Holcomb traveled to Silicon Valley to pitch chip CEOs about his state's commitment to the semiconductor sector. Combined with a follow up invitation to visit Purdue from President Mitch Daniels, the Purdue College of Engineering made its case for a remarkable first of its kind collaboration that includes a new design center right on campus. "This means students and faculty at Purdue will have the opportunity to interact with world class chip design talent right across the street," said Dr. Mung Chiang, President-Elect of Purdue University, current Executive Vice President for strategic initiatives, and John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering. The Purdue team worked with the IEDC to fully leverage Purdue's role as one of the top STEM universities to attract this new semiconductor investment.
Though MediaTek has been working with U.S. universities for more than a decade, and invested more than $3.5 billion globally in research and development in 2021, this is the first time MediaTek has made such a strong commitment to a U.S. university that included a new MediaTek design team right on campus. The powerful combination of a leading edge commercial design effort and company support for research and graduate education is remarkable for this region. MediaTek hopes to employ as many as 30 top engineers in West Lafayette by 2025 and up to 10 graduate student interns.
"Attracting a world-class chip design firm to Indiana has been a longtime goal for our team," Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. "I applaud Secretary Chambers, the IEDC and, of course, the whole team here at Purdue for doing the hard work necessary to get a global company to take a look at Indiana and all we have to offer. This investment by MediaTek is a commitment to Indiana and an opportunity to grow its U.S. design center workforce here in the Midwest. I welcome this effort, which underscores the vitality and growth of the innovative work happening in our Discovery Park District and signals clear support for the semiconductor industry's growth and development here."
The first cohort of interns are expected to join the MediaTek/Purdue University design center in May 2023 and the search for the endowed professorship in Semiconductor Chip Design, and a separate head of the new Indiana center, will begin in earnest soon.
Welcoming this partnership and investment, Governor Eric J. Holcomb of the State of Indiana said, "We are thrilled to have MediaTek, a leading global semiconductor company, invest in our great state and the country's leading engineering university. We have committed $1.4M of state funding over the next three years to help make this partnership possible and look forward to reaping the benefits of the intellectual capital that will be borne out of this new design center, and the talent that will emerge from it."
In 2022, Purdue Engineering achieved its first back-to-back top four graduate engineering ranking in the U.S. and has also become the largest top 10 undergraduate engineering college in the country. In May 2022 at Indiana's Global Economic Summit, Purdue launched their own comprehensive Semiconductor Degrees Program (SDP).
The SelectUSA conference, now in its ninth year, is the largest annual forum for foreign direct investment in the US. It brings together business leaders from international markets and economic development representatives from all 50 U.S. states and territories. MediaTek is a member of the largest ever delegation from Taiwan participating in this year's conference.
I personally believe that if MediaTek wishes to compete against companies like Qualcomm then this step is what they need.