President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology (PCAST) today announced the launch of a new Semiconductor Working Group that will provide recommendations to address the rapid rise of semiconductor businesses abroad.

Chips are the heart of everything electronic, and they have become a $330 billion worldwide industry. U.S. companies have held the leading market share in the industry — which puts the “silicon” in Silicon Valley — for decades. The Semiconductor Working Group includes 11 experts on chips and the broader economy.

John Neuffer, president of the Semiconductor Industry Association, the U.S. industry trade group, said in a statement:

SIA welcomes this timely announcement, given new challenges facing the U.S. semiconductor industry, including unprecedented government investment programs from some countries and the increasing technological complexity involved in achieving new innovation breakthroughs. These developments have implications not only for the economy and society, but also national security. In fact, SIA earlier recommended the Administration form a public-private advisory group to help guide government policy related to improving the competitiveness of the U.S. semiconductor industry.

In a related development, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will give a policy address on the importance and future of the U.S. semiconductor industry at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) this Wednesday at 1 p.m. EST. The semiconductor industry directly employs 250,000 workers, is the third-largest source of U.S. manufactured exports, and has the highest level of investment in research and development (R&D) as a percentage of sales of any major industry, according to a post by John Holdren and former Intel CEO Paul Otellini, who are co-chairs of the group.

Neuffer said that semiconductors are a “fundamental building block for U.S. technology leadership. They enable commercial innovations that drive economic growth and productivity, as well as strategically important platforms that ensure U.S. national security, such as satellites and supercomputers. The chip industry spawns new industries, makes existing industries more productive, and drives advances once never imagined.”

To stay ahead in the tech, the U.S. needs a vibrant industry. Neuffer said, “We view today’s announcement as helpful for assessing, analyzing, and formulating recommendations to this and the next Administration on how to maintain U.S. leadership in this key sector. We look forward to working with the PCAST Semiconductor Working Group and hope this and other efforts can lead to a more comprehensive and robust national strategy to spur greater competitiveness, innovation, and research and development in the U.S. semiconductor industry.”

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) just announced the formation of a new working group focused on strengthening the U.S. semiconductor industry in ways that benefit the nation’s economic and security interests — big news for our industry and the tech sector, in general.

The full working group includes the following members:

  • John Holdren (director, OSTP; PCAST co-chair); working group co-chair
  • Paul Otellini (former president and CEO, Intel); working group co-chair
  • Richard Beyer (former chair and CEO, Freescale Semiconductor)
  • Wes Bush (chair, CEO, and president, Northrop Grumman)
  • John Hennessy (President Emeritus, Stanford University)
  • Paul Jacobs (executive chair, Qualcomm)
  • Ajit Manocha (former CEO, GlobalFoundries)
  • Jami Miscik (co-CEO and vice chairman, Kissinger Associates; co-chair, President’s Intelligence Advisory Board)
  • Craig Mundie (president, Mundie and Associates; former senior advisor, Microsoft; member of PCAST)
  • Mike Splinter (former CEO and chair, Applied Materials)
  • Laura Tyson (Distinguished Professor of the graduate school, UC Berkeley; former CEA chair and NEC director)