Press Releases

Abu Dhabi Doubles Down on Semiconductor Research

ATIC, SRC, Masdar Institute and Khalifa University Join Forces for Center of Excellence in Microelectronics Research


The Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC) and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) today launched the ATIC-SRC Center of Excellence for Energy Efficient Electronic Systems (ACE4S), to be hosted jointly in Abu Dhabi by Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research, and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. ATIC will dedicate over AED 17.5 million to the project over the next three years, which will be matched collectively by Masdar Institute and Khalifa University for a total budget of more than AED 35 million. This funding will drive innovation in next-generation electronic systems ranging in applications from smart phones and medical devices to the Internet of Things.

“The establishment of the ATIC-SRC research center is a significant milestone in the UAE’s drive to strengthen its knowledge-based economy,” said HE Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. “The research center will drive innovation, cultivate our human capital and serve as a valuable platform for building strong industry ties between academia and industry. This collaboration between ATIC, Khalifa University and Masdar Institute will contribute to the UAE’s establishment as a hub for semiconductor research. Such partnership models will be critical to our economic growth and global competitiveness within knowledge-intensive industries.  The research center’s establishment would not have been possible without the support of our visionary leadership who are committed to invest in securing the UAE’s long-term prosperity.”

“This center is a significant research milestone for Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the region,” said Sami Issa, Executive Director at ATIC. “ACE4S is a critical building block of our ecosystem strategy to help enable the development of homegrown talent in key areas of science and technology. Such talent development is essential as Abu Dhabi transitions into an innovation-based society as per the 2030 vision.”

“Over the past 30 years, SRC has successfully helped establish numerous university research centers and distributed more than $2 billion dollars in research funds in the United States; ACE4S role as our first international center reflects significantly on the quality of research we pursue,” said SRC President Larry Sumney. “The ACE4S Center has been established with valuable industry guidance from companies such as GLOBALFOUNDRIES, AMD, Applied Materials, Freescale, IBM, Intel, Mentor Graphics, Texas Instruments and Tokyo Electron (TEL) and will build on SRC-sponsored university research supporting 15 individual researchers in the UAE. Top semiconductor industry experts will oversee and serve as liaisons for each research task, and SRC will productively guide the overall research while also promoting strong student engagement—enabling us to identify areas of greatest need and foster the move of innovations from lab to market.”

The center will be overseen by a partnership committee of high-level ATIC, SRC, Khalifa University and Masdar Institute representatives and will be directed jointly by Professors Mohammed Ismail of Khalifa University, and Ibrahim Elfadel of Masdar Institute. The directors will oversee research across four targeted areas and work closely with a Technology Advisory Board (TAB) of representatives from industry-leading companies.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES will serve a special role on the TAB, assigning Mohamed Lakehal as an Abu Dhabi-based industrial liaison to oversee design tape-outs to fabrication in GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ facilities worldwide. The liaison will also support design enablement, deploying design-for-manufacture tools and raising the level of local semiconductor expertise.

“As a research-oriented institution, we are proud to be part of the ACE4S leadership and offer our expertise and research capabilities,” said Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute. “Our faculty will aim to develop microelectronic technologies with healthcare applications individually and in collaboration with their peers within the initial period of the center’s operation. These innovative products will include biosensor applications, wearable devices and self-powered wireless body area networks (WBAN). We believe these applications will have a wide impact because of their energy efficiency and novel designs.”

“This partnership will transform the way we conduct research in nano-scale energy efficient systems-on-chips as it will help us educate and train a highly skilled workforce with relevant skills. This is a key element in  driving innovation and entrepreneurship in the UAE’s semiconductor sector in line with the Abu Dhabi 2030 vision,” said Dr. Tod A. Larsen, President of Khalifa University. “The involvement of the SRC and its member companies in center development will help create a world-leading institution with a sustainable university/industry collaborative research environment conducive to high-tech job creation and direct local and foreign investment.”

The center will focus on energy efficient devices with research in energy harvesting, power management, sensor technologies and wireless communications networks. The research will be conducted primarily at Khalifa University and Masdar Institute but with important involvement from UAE University, American University of Sharjah and New York University, Abu Dhabi.  Within the first three years, ACE4S will seek to produce integrated prototypes with healthcare applications as well as knowledge and research relevant to safety and security, aerospace, water quality and the environment.

Supporting the transition of innovations to market, the center will develop an aggressive Intellectual Property Management Plan (IPMP). The IPMP will include early identification of interconnected families of innovation arising from technical themes, placing special emphasis on the integrated systems selected for demonstration at the end of year three.

ACE4S  is a continuation of ATIC’s broader focus on cultivating a technology research ecosystem within Abu Dhabi. Additional programs supported in this vein include: the Twin-Labs research center, a collaboration between Masdar Institute and Technical University of Dresden with support from the State of Saxony, ATIC and GLOBALFOUNDRIES;  the ATIC professorship chairs at UAEU and Khalifa University;  the Masters in Microsystems degree in collaboration with Masdar Institute; and ongoing MEES research grants in collaboration with the SRC.