The Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking information from the microelectronics (ME) research and development (R&D) community to help establish a public-private partnership to aid in domestic production of ME-related technologies, according to a request for information (RFI) posted to Feb. 24.

ME and related technologies have come to the forefront of the IT supply chain conversation, and DoD is looking to set up an ME “commons” as part of its requirement to establish a National Network for Microelectronics Research and Development (NNMRD) to aid in domestic ME and chip production.

Recent legislation – such as the CHIPS Act, the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), and the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) – are aiming to kickstart increased domestic production. The DoD is establishing the NNMRD as a requirement from the fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

“To supplement substantial U.S. investments in disruptive R&D, DoD must organize and facilitate a national network of research entities by reducing innovation barriers and enhance existing infrastructure,” the RFI says. “Many restrictions exist for introducing new materials and processes into tightly controlled high-volume fabrication processes where high yields offset large facility operation costs.”

In order to address these issues, DoD envisions ME Commons as a public-private partnership that consists of regional innovation hubs and focuses on “on critical, on-shore prototyping to transition innovation from universities, start-ups, and small companies to manufacturing.”

In addition to seeking information on the best way to set up this partnership, DoD is also seeking feedback on a proposed independent ME Commons Management Organization (MCMO) that would be in charge of managing coordination among the innovation hubs, as well as selecting and operating the network of collaborators.

Among other questions, DoD is looking for feedback on best practices for establishing an MCMO, what issues DoD should consider when approaching the public-private partnership that are ME Commons specific, and what existing DoD programs can be leveraged to aid in the initiatives.

DoD is seeking responses to the RFI by April 5.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.