State-owned Advanced Technology Investment Company (Atic) has revised its investment for the Abu Dhabi microchip plant from $6bn to up to $8bn to accommodate advances in technology, which will require more equipment once the factory goes online in 2015.
The company also plans to increase its 87 per cent stake in subsidiary Globalfoundries, a manufacturer of silicon wafer, which will run the Abu Dhabi plant. “The ownership stake in Globalfoundries is a moving target, over time as we build a bigger footprint, we will require more capital from our shareholders. By the end of the year the stake will reach 90 per cent,” says Daniel Durn, executive director of investment and strategy unit at Atic.
Globafoundries expects revenues to increase by 14 per cent this year to reach $4bn.
“This industry requires innovation and high human capital. Our most significant challenge is the creation of the talent to enable research and development and innovation,” says Sami Issa, an executive director leading the Abu Dhabi Ecosystem Development unit of Atic.
The company has partnered up with various education institutes, including New York University and Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research in Abu Dhabi to address the skills shortages.
Atic has invested in research and development and is encouraging its technology partners to open offices in Abu Dhabi to contribute to the research agenda. It is working with the Technology Development Committee (TDC) to establish a framework to help shape and drive data protection.
Part of Atic’s mission is to become a technology investment company and not just a semi-conductor manufacturer. “Over time we will diversify. The goal is to go beyond one facility and to create a technology ecosystem,” says Brian Lott, executive director of communications.
The demands of consumers will power the changes and determine investment. ”We are seeing a fusion of computational power with other vertical industries. No one could have predicted the popularity of [the US’ Apple’s] Ipad in 2006. Three to four years from now phones could be used to check blood pressure. These are areas of interest to us in terms of investment,” says Lott.
When the plant opens in 2015, Atic will focus on the cloud computing, content creation and mobility opportunities.
The project has been wholly funded by the Abu Dhabi government. It is part of the government’s plan to diversify its economy. So far the government has invested about $10bn, which includes the acquisition of Advanced Micro Devices and the expansion of Globalfoundries.