Science ministry seeking Qualcomm's help in industrial upgrade

Taipei, Nov. 7 (CNA) The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) has proposed a plan to U.S.-based chip designer Qualcomm Inc. seeking help on upgrading Taiwan's industries, MOST officials said Wednesday.As part of a Fair Trade Commission (FTC)-led task force responsible for monitoring how Qualcomm carries out an antitrust settlement, the MOST has come up with three requests to Qualcomm to help Taiwan's industries.Among the requests, MOST officials said Qualcomm has been asked by the ministry to include 3D sensor technology development or other emerging technologies with good prospects into its talks with Taiwanese universities on cooperation.The officials said these emerging technologies are expected to help Taiwan integrate its strengths in hardware and software development and advance the entire industrial sector's cloud-based technology capability.Qualcomm has agreed to study the feasibility of the plan proposed by the MOST, officials said.Qualcomm and the FTC reached a settlement in August over an antitrust dispute, as a result of which the company paid a fine of NT$2.73 billion (US$88.63 million), considerably lower than the record NT$23.4 billion initially imposed by the commission in October 2017.Under the settlement agreement, Qualcomm pledged to invest US$700 million in Taiwan over the next five years, an investment plan which will cover 5G collaboration, market expansion, startup and university collaborations, and the creation of an operational and manufacturing engineering center in the country.Many observers questioned whether Qualcomm will deliver on its commitment to invest US$700 million, and the FTC set up the task force, comprised of the commission, the MOST and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, to see if Qualcomm delivers on its pledge.The MOST officials said the ministry has also asked Qualcomm to hold an innovation competition -- the Qualcomm Innovate in Taiwan Challenge (QITC) -- in the country.They said such a competition is expected to work well in conjunction with the MOST's Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA), which aims to provide a platform to local research groups as a base for future innovation.In addition, the MOST has asked Qualcomm to hire high-end research and development talent in Taiwan for its plan to set up a new manufacturing engineering and testing center in Hsinchu.Last week, Qualcomm announced it will establish a Center for Operations, Manufacturing Engineering and Testing (COMET) in Taiwan, headed by Roawen Chen (陳若文), senior vice president, Qualcomm QCT global operations.COMET is scheduled to become operational in the first quarter of next year.According to Qualcomm, COMET will include a 5G module design center, and Qualcomm is launching a recruitment campaign with plans to initially hire 77 engineers.The MOST officials said the inter-ministerial task force will hold meetings from time to time to review Qualcomm's implementation of its investment pledge in Taiwan. The first meeting was held on Nov. 1.