This 2023 SSIA-led mission trip is a follow-up initiative from our last collaboration with Enterprise Singapore (US Team) and Arizona State University, via a Arizona-Singapore Business Development Webinar during our Business Connect event in August 2021. During then, speakers from ACA, the Arizona State University, and NXP Semiconductors’ Chandler fab highlighted opportunities in Arizona for Singapore companies.

With re-opening of the borders, SSIA is now ready to bring companies who are interested to expand into the US market to see and hear from the companies there on their experience and to understand the US business landscape. This follow-up mission was centered on the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC)’s SelectUSA Spinoff Mission that was created to highlight the vibrant semiconductor and AV/EV ecosystems in the Phoenix metro area. The US Embassy in SG (US Commercial Service SG) also attended and was represented by Commercial Officer & Digital Attaché, Christian Koschil, as well as Investment Specialist, Muhammad Masthan. On the companies front, this trip was targeted at SMEs in the SSIA’s network who were keen on expanding into international markets and getting into US.

There was a total of 9 companies that joined the mission trip from Singapore. And the objectives of this trip was:

  • Enable the companies to gather business and market information about the Arizona semiconductor and electric/autonomous industry and ecosystem through the organised sessions.
  • Position companies to better understand policy direction, regulatory drivers, federal/ state support in place to promote the growth of the US/Arizona semiconductor and electric/autonomous industry supply chain, including relevant policies relating to foreign investments and participation in grant funding for example, CHIPS Act funding.
  • Introduce Singapore companies to US semiconductor and electric/autonomous vehicles value chain companies for potential business matching and collaboration, supplier qualification, or subcontracting opportunities.
  • To explore opportunities of working with local universities for R&D and hiring

Generally, the Singapore delegates who joined this trip are happy with the contacts established, and the networking opportunities created by both GPEC Team and SSIA. The sharing of the Arizona ecosystem, Expansion How-To and Community networking and sharing by key representatives of the various cities in Arizona were also well received by the delegates. NexGen in particular shared that the ability to increase their presence in Arizona is likely a success based on conversations he had there. Mieux also commented that this trip is definitely leading them closer to their USA project.

“I recently had the benefit and privilege to attend the Semiconductor & EV/AV Ecosystem Exploration in Phoenix, Arizona.  While I recently moved to Phoenix area to start up our US business within the state of AZ, I was pleasantly surprised to find the strong economic and logistic support of the Greater Phoenix Economic council for all things Semiconductor.

It is no secret the tens of billions of dollars being brought to this area by the large investments by companies like TSMC and Intel, but the welcome mat has been extended to the many tentacles of the industry, large and small.  The efforts of SSIA and strong interactions with federal, state, and local business has led to a focused effort to make Arizona the “Silicon Desert”.

The couple days of discussion were helpful to see the general message of “Arizona is open and friendly to all business”, but the times encouraged for mingling were invaluable, allowing us to form relationships with municipalities, potential partners, universities, and key market leaders.  I was thankful for the time to interact with several local entities which will allow us to grow smartly and with purpose.  I was also able to meet others growing businesses in the area, collaborating to share resources, when possible, to better take advantage of the parallel needs and to align with programs to find and cultivate industry specific talent.  All in all, the two days of programs and tours were quite valuable.”

—Mr Jim DeBoer
Director of US Product and Operations for NexGen Wafer Systems America LLC,
a subsidiary of NexGen Wafer Systems Pte Ltd

D-SIMLAB Technologies is also one of the 9 companies that went on the trip. The company provides a Digital-Twin enabled software solution suite for capacity planning and WIP flow optimisation in Semiconductor Manufacturing with a strong customer base in Europe, Southeast Asia and Japan. As their business in US is growing, they are looking to grow their physical presence in North America to further strengthen their marketing and sales efforts and eventually enable customer support as well.

Said Mr Peter Lendermann, Chief Business Development Officer of D-SIMLAB Technologies, “The mission trip to Arizona organised by SSIA to participate in the Greater Phoenix Spinoff Mission, comprising a 2-days series of presentations and networking events, helped us to generate a number of relevant new contacts to Semiconductor Manufacturing companies in Arizona. Even though we have not yet decided where to establish our intended US office, during my interaction with representatives from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council as well as institutions of higher learning such as Arizona State University, it turned out that Arizona will be the first location to be considered because of a local ecosystem that appears to be advantageous from an operational standpoint, availability of talent and collaboration opportunities for joint R&D activities. Enterprise Singapore was also represented at the event and assured us of their support which will definitely be required when the time comes for us to establish a physical representation in the US.”

The US$60B investment by Intel and TSMC in Phoenix, Arizona area was also definitely a pull factor in attracting the delegates to explore opportunities there. From the sharing session from the various universities and institutions in Phoenix, the delegates were also shown the efforts made by the state in growing and attracting a young and technology-savvy workforce.

The Phoenix region is aggressively working to attract international businesses and has extensive programs aimed at facilitating companies to invest with more ease:

  1. Programs like the Global Growth Accelerator Programme, organized by the Arizona State University (ASU) and Greater Phoenix Economic Council, are a great way for Singapore companies to expand into the US market by way of Phoenix. Singapore companies will be able to receive free office space at ASU’s Skysong campus and gain access to ASU’s resources, including connections to university partners, professional and industry insiders, workforce partners, and state/local authorities.
  2. Grand Canyon University’s (GCU) Canyon Ventures program is another option that Singapore companies with limited resources may be able to tap on to set up a presence in the US. In exchange for agreeing to hire GCU students, selected companies are given indefinite free rent and access to local resources. The program is sector agnostic and has a range of companies including medical device, food and beverage, consumer products, media companies and more.
  3. The Arizona State University (ASU) Macrotechnology Works building is an interesting option for Singapore companies to setup a pilot operation in the US with cheap access to cleanroom space, access to large local players and talent, as well as tap on resources from ASU and GPEC.

The Phoenix market is rapidly becoming a leading global semiconductor hub. The robust resources and programs offered to international companies setting up in the region lower the barriers to entering Phoenix. This is underscored by Ms Lim of Enterprise Singapore.

“With its mix of major corporates, research institutes and government enablers, Phoenix is quickly establishing itself as a key state for the fast-growing semiconductor industry within the US. Investment into the region to scale up manufacturing has also created a significant window of opportunity that Singapore companies can take advantage of. Business missions allow Singapore companies looking to venture into new markets to form important in-market connections, as well as better understand the local business and regulatory landscape, to refine their market entry strategy. Together with industry partners like SSIA, EnterpriseSG will continue to support Singapore companies through such efforts to enable them to capitalise on these opportunities.”

—Ms Lim Seow Hui
Director, Americas, Enterprise Singapore

This is the first time SSIA is organising such international mission trips for our members, the learnings are definitely helpful and insightful for us to plan for more of such internationalisation trips in future. If you would like to be a part of this ecosystem, please feel free to reach out to the secretariat team.

Jim DeBoer, Director of US Product and Operations for NexGen Wafer Systems America LLC, a subsidiary of NexGen Wafer Systems Pte Ltd caps this off very succinctly: As a part of the SSIA group, I was thankful for the evening meal to relax and have free discussion for those who joined on this trip.  SSIA did a great job to help keep our group headed in the right direction and to foster a team gathering.  We all participated in relaxed conversation about our experience and the importance of the SSIA exploration and ended the night with additional connections as well as budding friendships. All in all, the SSIA efforts were fruitful and appreciated!  I look forward to continuing joint efforts.”

Contributed by:

Amy Ang
Business Development Director