David Anderson says he’s seen semiconductor facilities all over the world, and the Albany Nanotech Complex is one of the most unique. 
That’s one of the reasons he took the job last month as president of NY CREATES, the organization that oversees the complex.
Local leaders are positioning the complex to get a federal designation as a National Semiconductor Technology Center, which would bring funding and at least 1,000 jobs. This week, NY CREATES issued a request for proposals for the construction of a new building at the Albany site that would include an additional 50,000 square feet of cleanroom space for chipmaking research.
Anderson has had multiple leadership roles in the semiconductor industry, including his most recent as president of trade association SEMI Americas.
The Business Review spoke with Anderson about Albany Nanotech and the future of the semiconductor industry in the Capital Region.
What stood out to you about the Albany Nanotech Complex that led to you taking this job? I have seen facilities like this all over the world, but I will say there’s nothing quite like it in the U.S. as far as the capabilities that exist here. It is a unique R&D infrastructure that’s been built here over the last 20 years, and it has huge potential that’s yet untapped. I really was attracted by the activity around the federal funding possibilities and the CHIPS Act and the National Semiconductor Technology Center, and the role that this site could play in supporting that. And developing that R&D infrastructure for the U.S. as part of a national network, as well as the opportunity to continue to grow the manufacturing base here in New York and around the country, frankly.
Where do you see the biggest growth potential? We certainly have huge capabilities, and we have applications that are not just your straight semiconductor technologies, but at the intersection of semiconductor and life sciences. The engagement not just with the industry, but with academia and other partners, is really unique. It’s pretty exciting the types of technologies that have come out of this and are going to be coming out of this site in the future.
What are some of your first priorities? First and foremost, it’s to align the site to prepare for growth. We’re seeing growth across the industry; multiple sectors are driving that growth. As we look to the future – and AI and quantum computing and other applications – we want to prepare for that. And of course, prepare for any funding that might come our way from the NSTC activities. It’s really making sure that we have the resources in place, both physical infrastructure resources as well as the talent and workforce. 
How good of a shot do you think Albany has at securing the NSTC designation? It’s going to be a national network of capabilities. I think that Albany Nanotech infrastructure is some of the best we have in this country, so I clearly think that we are in a position to receive our fair share of that funding. Will we be the sole recipient? No. I do believe that we need to engage with industry and academia and other institutions, including national labs and others across the U.S., to have a national response to this funding effort. But I think we could be certainly one of the lead entities in driving that forward.  
​​We’re engaged with the American Semiconductor Innovation Coalition with now over 70 institutions preparing for a proposal once the legislation has passed and an RFP is released from the Department of Commerce.
Do you have any idea what the timeline will be for the NSTC decision? That’s the billion-dollar question. We do think it’ll get resolved over the summer and an RFP will be released hopefully late summer, and it’ll be off to the races with the proposal writing.
Can you give readers a better idea of what NSTC would do for this region? I think it certainly speeds the process to getting where we’d like to be with adding new capabilities and new tools and processes. It does help develop the ecosystem around Albany, which is very important. Once that ecosystem is built, it provides a space from which other manufacturers might want to locate, as well. It does also add capabilities programmatically that we may not have yet contemplated, or with our current partners may not have gotten there.
What are your thoughts on the long-term economic growth this industry could spur in the Albany region? If you look at any locus of semiconductor activity, you’ll see that there is manufacturing, there’s R&D and there’s the supply chain all clustered in that region. That’s really our objective to develop here.
We have an eye towards that in all that we do, and bringing new partners into utilization of our fab as well as helping to support those partners as they expand. A great example of that is the most recent Wolfspeed silicon carbide fab that was built in Utica. They were able to tremendously accelerate bringing up their new fab. Providing an avenue toward enabling startups to have access to the capabilities we have is part of the process, as well. 
Are there certain companies you’d like to see have a presence here? Go down the list of the top 25 semiconductor companies, and we’d love to have them all. In the three weeks that I’ve been here, we’ve met with probably five companies already, large and small, that are looking at operations. We’re not the only site that’s being considered, but they are looking around the country for manufacturing sites and we’re obviously doing our best to support their needs. 
Will NY CREATES need to do any hiring? We’re certainly looking at hiring at all levels. One of the focuses I have is on how to re-engage our recruitment and identify the positions we need to fill both for our existing programs and as we bring the new fab online, and then even beyond that.
Interview has been edited and condensed. 
© 2022 American City Business Journals. All rights reserved. Use of and/or registration on any portion of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 1/1/21) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 7/20/21). The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of American City Business Journals.