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Semiconductor chiefs meet in Saratoga Springs

Marie Cusick

Top executives from around the globe were in Saratoga Springs this week to talk about the future of the semiconductor industry.

The event marks the 16th annual meeting of the World Semiconductor Council (WSC). The gathering rotates around the world and is only held in the United States once every six years.

The group of CEOs and top executives from semiconductor companies are normally fierce competitors, but once a year they come together for this meeting to build consensus around issues that affect the whole industry, like international trade and public policy.

Brian Toohey heads the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), a Washington D.C.- based trade organization. He says the WSC model of cooperation is unique to this industry.

"The executives get together [and] develop what the key government actions need to be to ensure the growth of the industry ... and governments normally adopt them."

And why are governments generally so cooperative?

Caroline Kazmierski is a spokeswoman for the SIA. She says it's because the industry changes so rapidly, and its leaders are all on the same page. 

The recommendations that come out of this week's WSC meeting will be presented to governments from around the world at a meeting this September in Germany.

On Thursday evening, the SIA and four CEO's of semiconductor companies held a discussion with members of the press about issues facing the industry. They included:

  • Mark Durcan, CEO Micron Technology
  • Ray Stata, CEO Analog Devices, Inc.
  • Rich Beyer, CEO Freescale Semiconductor
  • Ajit Manocha, CEO GlobalFoundries
  • Brian Toohey, President SIA

The executives said some of the challenges for the industry in the U.S. include an unfavorable corporate tax rate and intellectual property laws.
As the head of Micron, Mark Durcan says his company employs about 11,000 workers in the United States, and more than 14,000 overseas.

“It’s just a different environment in the United States relative to what you might find in some other parts of the world where they’re really actively trying to attract state of the art manufacturing to help drive their economies.” 

Despite that sentiment, the CEOs had praise for New York State's substantial role in developing a cluster of research and manufacturing for nanotechnology and semiconductors in the Capital Region.

In light of Hewlett-Packard's recent announcement that they're cutting eight percent of their global workforce, the executives said the growth of wireless communications and cloud computing present new opportunities for the industry, which is shifting from personal computers to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

WMHT/Capital Region reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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