Raj Jammy, imec’s President of U.S. Operations, shares why Orlando region’s NeoCity is an ideal location for launching the company’s U.S. expansion plans and how the region’s semiconductor and microelectronics infrastructure and talent pipeline are setting up the region for positive growth 

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imec’s history in Florida dates back nearly a decade when the company was looking for a location to expand its operations in the United States. 

“imec is an institution known for its world-class capabilities in research, development, and innovation, and we’ve been doing this for 40 years,” said Raj Jammy, President of U.S. Operations at imec USA. “We were looking at opportunities to house a team here in the U.S.”

The vision and support that Osceola County provided to us in NeoCity and what they wanted to do here caught our attention. And it was an obvious choice at that point in time.

Raj Jammy, President of U.S. Operations, imec USA

In 2016, imec USA became one of the first occupants of NeoCity in Osceola County, the region’s 500-acre technology district for advanced semiconductor research and manufacturing. NeoCity houses a semiconductor fabrication facility, more than 100,000 square feet of Class A office space, and NeoCity Academy, a public STEM high school.  

Jammy said imec saw NeoCity’s potential. 

“From the beginning, even before this site was constructed, we saw and admired Osceola County’s vision to move towards high technology and developing a high-tech ecosystem in this area,” he said.

The investments they’ve made are a leap of faith, a calculated risk, and one we really appreciate.

Raj Jammy, President of U.S. Operations, imec USA

Located at imec USA’s research lab in NeoCity, imec staff are conducting state-of-the-art research in cryogenic and superconducting computing, specialty, and advanced semiconductor packaging technologies. 

“Semiconductors are everywhere in everything we do, starting from toasters to microwave ovens to refrigerators to home entertainment systems and the WiFi we use at home,” Jammy said. “Semiconductors are the materials. Microelectronics is what we make out of those materials into nanoscale devices.” 

Jammy said the Orlando region “has a lot going for it” regarding semiconductor reshoring.  

“Traditionally, semiconductors and microelectronics require substantial investment in what I call capabilities,” Jammy said.

When Osceola County said they were going to make NeoCity happen, they put that capability on the ground, and that’s why we came here.

Raj Jammy, President of U.S. Operations, imec USA

In addition to capabilities, Jammy said the Orlando region has excellent K-12 schools and universities fueling the workforce talent pipeline. 

“You have to make sure that different pieces come together. You need to build capabilities, but you must also fuel the capability with capacity and provide the right workforce. Then you have to keep the engine going, and that’s how you grow,” Jammy said. “I think Florida and Central Florida are primed for growth, particularly with its optics and photonics companies and proximity to the Space Coast and its space and aerospace-based industries.” 

He adds that the talent pipeline coming from the Orlando region’s K-12 schools and higher education institutions is of high quality. He cites NeoCity Academy, a STEM high school located right by imec USA’s R&D Center, and how it provides education to train the future workforce.  

“This is a unique site where you have a STEM-focused education component taught from the beginning. How many places in the US have a STEM-focused school on site?” Jammy said.  

Jammy adds that NeoCity’s proximity to the University of Central Florida and the programs offered there fulfill industry needs. 

“[The University of Central Florida] has been excellent in specialty programs, which are all becoming part of microelectronics and semiconductors, so that’s a great addition to the mainstream industry’s needs,” he said.  

We need good students, not only for imec’s needs but also for industrial needs that are mushrooming around here.

Raj Jammy, President of U.S. Operations, imec USA

“And the more people we have coming out of the schools, the more industries look at that and say this is a region where we want to set up shop because we have an opportunity,” Jammy said. 

Semiconductor reshoring is a national priority, with the federal government investing millions of dollars to bolster national security. More than half a billion dollars in state and federal investments were made in the past year and a half, positioning NeoCity as a national hub for semiconductor and microelectronics research, development, and manufacturing. Most recently, a NeoCity coalition, including imec and led by BRIDG, won the NSF Engines award, which complemented the success of winning the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. 

“The U.S. government has been very focused on ensuring a vibrant commercial industry in microelectronics and semiconductor space, and that much more manufacturing happens in the U.S. There is also a recognition that you need to increase the research happening within the country and mature the R&D to manufacture those devices here, so I think the NeoCity site plays a vital role in all these aspects,” Jammy said. 

Jammy said the Orlando region is ideal for semiconductor and microelectronics companies looking to expand or relocate. 

“Relocating companies or expanding in areas where you’re looking for talent or if you’re looking for economic advantages, whether it’s the cost of labor or the cost or availability of natural resources that you need for your business or if you’re looking at the incentives and support that the regional government or state government provides, you have it all [here],” he said.   

Jammy said the Orlando region is central to its operations in the U.S., adding that doing business here is more accessible than overseas in some ways. 

I think the ease of doing business and community in the Orlando area is something we’ve come to appreciate.

Raj Jammy, President of U.S. Operations, imec USA

“We have offices in different parts of the world, and we have great relationships and enjoy doing business in those areas as well. But I think one of the things that we were able to do very easily here is establish strong partnerships quickly,” Jammy said. “There’s a lot of flexibility and an understanding of the fact that it’s a national agenda because semiconductors are a national problem, and there has always been an appreciation of how we can bring both sides of the Atlantic together.”

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