The Biden administration has open applications for $285 million in CHIPS Act funding for an institute to develop digital twins for the chip manufacturing industry. The investments aims to accelerate silicon design and engineering while enhancing national security. It’s part of a multibillion-dollar push to establish the US as a booming chip-making powerhouse, reduce dependence on the global supply chain and establish technological dominance over China.

Digital twins are advanced software models of hardware (in this case, processors) that can help you save time and money and increase efficiency. Virtual clones allow engineers to anticipate problems and adjust designs accordingly before production even begins. The automotive industry and the space force (for satellite simulations) have also used the technology.

The Commerce Department says AI also plays a role. “Digital twin-based research can also use emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence to help accelerate the design of new US chip development and manufacturing concepts and significantly reduce costs by improving capacity planning, optimizing of production, facility upgrades and real-time process adjustments.”

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The funding is part of $39 billion in the 2022 CHIPS Act allocated for semiconductor research and development. The US had already allocated billions in CHIPS Act manufacturing incentives, including $6.4 billion to Samsung, $6.6 billion to TSMC, $6.1 billion for Micron and $8.5 billion for Intel. However, Bloomberg notes that R&D funding like this could be the most important part of the Biden administration’s long game to spur local silicon innovation and avoid scenarios where supply chain shutdowns shut down parts of the U.S. economy and national security .

The government says the institute’s funds will go towards core operations, digital twin research, creating and supporting shared digital facilities and workforce training. The Biden administration wants to avoid scenarios such as dependence on foreign adversaries for technology that could affect America’s national security (as the US military increasingly relies on advanced technology), economic independence and control of the supply chain.

The Biden administration’s CHIPS program will host a meeting for potential candidates on May 16.

“This new Manufacturing USA Institute will not only help America become a leader in the development of this new technology for the semiconductor industry, but it will also help train the next generation of American workers and researchers to use digital twins for future advancements in research and development and chip manufacturing,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo wrote in a press release.