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What’s happening with ISA and Indian semicon industry?

October 17, 2011 12 comments

What? The India Semiconductor Association (ISA) only has around 25 Indian companies in its list? This startling piece of statistic was recently conveyed to me by a company looking to enter India! I frantically contacted ISA to clarify. As of now, am yet to get a reply.

I look around, especially across Asia. There are so many local companies listed in China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, but the number drops drastically, when it comes to India!

Having spent a number of years in Asia Pacific and being more familiar with its ways definitely helps. Why, I remember meeting TSMC, back in 1998, in Taiwan. It was considered a small entity, with few takers. Where has it risen today?

Even Huawei, for example, showed off its 3G base stations, while still a young Chinese company, to me in 2000. I recall asking Richard Lee, then with Huawei, what’s the company’s expansion plans. Today, everyone knows how fast and wide Huawei has expanded!

Now, when you compare two of the biggest players today – TSMC and Huawei — with Indian players, who do you come up with? Nothing?? Some may say, AirTel and Reliance? Excuse me, but aren’t they telecom operators?

ISA founder members in Oct. 2004!

ISA founder members in Oct. 2004!

Now, I do know of several start-ups in the Indian semiconductor space, who have time and again given a negative response when asked the question: Are you an ISA member? The single biggest and telling response has been: “ISA caters to global companies or MNCs. What does it do or has done for the Indian companies? We are fine without its support!”

Wow! If this is the response that the Indian semiconductor start-ups have toward the industry association, I wonder what lies ahead!

When the ISA had started off in Oct. 2004, things weren’t this way! Going back to that year, India was said to have a major advantage in building fabless semiconductor companies. Some other advantages in favor of India at that time (Nov. 2004), were: local IC design service firms, who were creators of selective IP, development of smart chips with embedded software and the need for microelectronics as national agenda. Today, all of that seems to have been lost! Why? These are not even discussed?

And now, the ISA has latched on to ESDM (electronics system design and manufacturing). That’s really ‘easy to say, but difficult to manage!’ Going by the current happenings, one does not feel even this can happen! One wishes, it eventually does.

But hey, this post is not about ESDM! It is about having the number of Indian-born-and-bred semiconductor companies within the ISA!  Take a good look at the image! Only one member of the Executive Council is currently present! Where are all the founders of ISA? Or, do you now want to tell me that the Indian industry does not even respect its founding fathers?

The ISA is committed to including all players of the ESDM ecosystem within it’s member base. As such, any company which plays in this ecosystem, irrespective of their country of origin, is welcome to join the ISA. Having said that, the ISA is particularly partial to getting more companies registered within India, and who are doing both R&D and development within India, to join it’s membership base. We are also very supportive of startups in this space and are very proud of the startups who are already members, said PVG Menon, president, ISA.

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