WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The chief executive officer of Minnesota-based SkyWater Technology (Nasdaq: SKYT) says the company’s planned $1.8 billion semiconductor R&D and production facility will be part of an evolving ecosystem in West Lafayette. On Wednesday, the company detailed its plans for the 600,000-square-foot facility and the 750 jobs it will bring to the Discovery Park District near the Purdue University campus. Thomas Sonderman says as the semiconductor ecosystem grows over time, Indiana could become the “Silicon Heartland.”
Sonderman spoke with reporters Wednesday after the announcement in West Lafayette.
“As you begin to bring in the ecosystem, other companies will locate here [such as] equipment manufacturers, design houses, [MediaTek] just announced they’re coming here,” said Sonderman. “So, I what you’ll see is an entire community evolve.”
The company says the project hinges on the passage of the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America, or CHIPS, Act. The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to begin discussions on the bill, which would provide $52 billion in funding for the American semiconductor industry.
A spokesperson for Senator Todd Young’s (R-IN) office told our partners at the IBJ lawmakers are confident the bill will receive Congressional approval by August 5.
Sonderman said while the project will rely on funding from the CHIPS Act, the company would still pursue manufacturing semiconductors in West Lafayette.
“I think it’s a gating item, and obviously we want it to pass,” Sonderman said. “What it does is accelerates everything. While we want to have the federal support, I don’t think it diminishes the mission.”
Sonderman says Purdue’s commitment to the semiconductor industry with its recently-announced Semiconductor Degrees Program was a “huge catalyst” for selecting Indiana for the fabrication facility, or “fab.”
“Other people are announcing fabs, but none of them are doing it on a campus like Purdue. And so, in many ways, I think we are the poster child for what the CHIPS Act is all about,” he said. “Seventy-five percent of the graduates of Purdue stay in this region and now have a fab where they can go work.”
Sonderman said if the CHIPS Act is passed, the company would immediately submit for funding. While a specific start date for construction is not known, he says it would take up to 36 months to begin production at the facility.
SkyWater bills itself as the only U.S.-investor owned pure-play semiconductor and technology foundry. The company, which has 600 employees, went public in April 2021, raising about $97 million in its initial public offering.
The company’s shares closed at $10.85 each Wednesday following the announcement.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Minnesota-based SkyWater Technology (Nasdaq: SKYT) on Wednesday announced plans to build a $1.8 billion semiconductor R&D and production facility in West Lafayette. The project is expected to create 750 jobs over five years.
SkyWater says the 600,000-square-foot plant will allow the company to respond to increasing demand for domestic manufacturing of microelectronics and will house advanced next generation fabrication facilities.
The facility, which will include 100,000 square feet of cleanroom space, will be located in the Discover Park District, the 400-acre mixed-use development adjacent to the Purdue University campus.
SkyWater CEO Thomas Sonderman says the project will depend on funding from the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America, or CHIPS, Act introduced by Congress in 2020.
“Federal investment will enable SkyWater to more quickly expand our efforts to address the need for strategic reshoring of semiconductor manufacturing,” Sonderman said in written remarks. “Through the support and partnership of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, we have a unique opportunity to increase domestic production, shore up our supply chains and lay the groundwork for manufacturing technologies that will support growing demand for microelectronics.”
Sonderman says while the company waits on the passage of the CHIPS Act, planning is already underway for the facility. He says once construction begins, it will take about 36 months to begin production.
Bloomberg reports the bill, which would provide $52 billion in funding for the American semiconductor industry, could be passed as early as next week. The Senate on Tuesday voted 64-34 to begin debate on the legislation.
SkyWater bills itself as the only U.S.-investor owned pure-play semiconductor and technology foundry. The company, which has 600 employees, went public in April 2021, raising about $97 million in its initial public offering.
The firm was previously part of San Jose, California-based Cypress Semiconductor, but became an independent company in 2017 when it was acquired by Oxbow Industries, a private equity firm headquartered in Minneapolis.
The company, which makes integrated circuits for customers including Infineon, D-Wave, Microsoft and Steifpower, lost $16.6 million in the first quarter on revenue of $48.1 million. Shares closed at $9.46 each Tuesday, down from their IPO price of $14.
A timeline for construction of the new facility was not provided. SkyWater says details for when hiring would begin in West Lafayette will be announced at a later date.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has committed up to more than $70 million in incentives for the project. They include up to $30 million in conditional tax credits and training grants, $20 million in redevelopment tax credits, up to $20 million in conditional structured performance payments, up to $500,000 in innovation vouchers, and $1 million Manufacturing Readiness Grants.
The IEDC says the incentives are performance-based, meaning SkyWater will be eligible to claim them once it makes eligible investments in innovation activities and employees are hired and trained.
Additional incentives have been offered by Purdue University, Greater Lafayette Commerce, the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and Duke Energy.
“This investment will create hundreds of high-paying, good-quality jobs for the people of Indiana and will help secure our semiconductor supply chain here in the United States,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Semiconductors keep our cars on the road, our military jets in the air, and quite literally keep the lights on. Today’s announcement is a win for American economic and national security. It’s up to Congress to continue this momentum and fully fund the CHIPS Act so that we can continue to make announcements just like this one.”
The announcement comes less than a month after Purdue detailed a new partnership with Taiwan-based MediaTek to establish a Chip Design Center at the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Purdue’s Discovery Park District.
SkyWater is no stranger to Indiana. The tech company announced plans in November to open research space at the WestGate@Crane Technology Park in Odon. The company is a U.S. Department of Defense-accredited supplier, which prompted it to open a facility near the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division.
During the Global Economic Summit in May in Indianapolis, the state announced the creation of the Accelerating Microelectronics Production & Development task force, designed to strengthen Indiana’s role in semiconductor manufacturing through procurement of new projects and federal funding.
Also in May, Purdue announced the launch of its Semiconductor Degrees Program, a suite of degrees and credentials for both graduate and undergraduate students.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A subsidiary of West Lafayette-based Inotiv Inc. (Nasdaq: NOTV) has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the company announced Monday. The settlement involves an investigation into a Virginia dog breeding facility operated by Indianapolis-based Envigo RMS, which was accused of violating animal welfare laws.
Envigo breeds and sells animals used in lab testing.
Federal officials filed a lawsuit in May after inspections of the Cumberland, Virginia facility found hundreds of dead dogs, as well as live dogs housed in filthy conditions that had received inadequate medical care and insufficient food.
Inspectors also found some dogs had been euthanized without first receiving anesthesia. Officials seized at least 145 beagles found to be in “acute distress.”
Last month, Inotiv announced it was closing two Envigo locations in Virginia, including the Cumberland facility. The company said the move was part of a restructuring effort that followed its $545 million acquisition of Envigo last November.
As part of the settlement, Envigo has agreed to no longer engage in any activity at the facility that requires an Animal Welfare Act license. Additionally, the company will relinquish the remaining 4,000 beagles at the facility to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Inotiv says the settlement, which was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia on July 15, does not require Envigo to pay any fines for penalties. Additionally, the company says the settlement is “not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by Envigo with regard to its past operation of the Cumberland Facility.”
The court has also approved a plan between the DOJ and HSUS to coordinate the removal of the remaining beagles from the facility over the next 60 days.
Inotiv says the settlement requires the DOJ and USDA move to dismiss all civil and administrative complaints with prejudice seven days after all of the remaining dogs have been removed from the facility.
“This settlement brings to an end the needless suffering caused by Envigo’s blatant violations of animal welfare laws at this facility,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in written remarks. “We will continue to vigorously enforce animal welfare laws to ensure that animals are provided the humane care that they are legally owed and deserve.”
Inotiv is currently facing a shareholder lawsuit that alleges the company failed to promptly disclose information about animal welfare concerns at the Cumberland facility, our partners at the IBJ reported earlier this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Purdue University says the images released this week from the the James Webb Space Telescope represent a new era in space exploration. Danny Milisavljevic, is leading a team of dozens who will study images produced by the JWST, including the supernova Cassiopeia A.
Milisavljevic discussed the importance of the telescope and what it means in an interview with the Associated Press.
“The beauty of the images, the sensitivity to faint emission, the resolution, and ability to capture fine details in the gases…brought up this sense of anticipation made me think about the science that we were going to be accomplishing,” he said. “We have the most powerful space telescope ever designed and successfully launched and operated at our disposal, and it’s going to open up exciting new opportunities for us to explore the universe.”
JWST, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, was launched in December and reached orbit in January. It has spent the last several months calibrating its instruments before taking its first images.
Milisavljevic’s team consists of nearly 40 scientists and researchers from more than 30 institutions who will study Cassiopeia A, which is comprises the remnants of a supernova explosion.
“Supernova remnants are leftover explosions — that’s what we’ll be studying. We’ll be able to study what type of star was there before the explosion, the physics of the explosion, the type of dust it generated and what made it all happen,” he said. “Supernova explosions make all the materials for life — the oxygen we breathe, the iron in our blood.”
Cassiopeia A is about 11,000 light years away, and Milisavljevic’s will take place during the first year of JWST’s research.
You can learn more about JWST and Milisavljevic’s research by clicking here.
LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Germany-based biomedical company Evonik says the expansion of its facility in Lafayette will help ensure that the U.S. is prepared for another pandemic. The company announced in early June it will build an additional facility at its current site in Tippecanoe County to manufacture lipids, molecules that encapsulate and deliver mRNA vaccines to cells in the body. The technology was used in the production of two COVID treatments.
In an interview with Business of Health reporter Kylie Veleta, Evonik Global Project Manager Yvonne Hurt said mRNA technology shows promise in the treatment of other diseases.
“As the future of medicine, mRNA can be used to treat COVID. Potential areas could be the flu, Zika, HIV, or even cancer,” said Hurt. “It’s currently actually the most advanced way to deliver drugs.”
Evonik operates two lipid producing plants in Germany. Their output was used in the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine. Hurt says the Lafayette plant, the company’s first lipid plant in the U.S., will be able out-produce the European facilities.
Evonik says the $220 million investment to expand operations in Lafayette will be offset by more than $150 million from the federal government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
That investment puts the U.S. government at the head of the line when responding to another pandemic.
“This new facility really ensures a rapid and extensive supply of lipids in case of a future pandemic,” said Hurt. “The U.S. government gets priority access for a 10-year period and most favorite customer pricing on those lipids.”
Evonik already operates a plant in Tippecanoe County, producing pharmaceutical ingredients. It employs 650 workers. The new plant will eventually employ up to 80 high-skill jobs in the areas of operations, engineering, and quality assurance.
Construction is set to begin in 2023 and the company will begin hiring for positions in Lafayette in 2024. Evonik plans for the new plant to become operational in 2025.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University says a partnership with Taiwan-based MediaTek could serve as a model for other semiconductor companies to establish operations in Indiana. Purdue and MediaTek on Tuesday detailed plans to establish a new chip design center in the university’s Discovery Park District, which is expected to create up to 30 jobs.
“We are all excited that this is going to be a highly-synergistic relationship going forward that’s going to have a lot of win-win effects,” said Vijay Raghunathan.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Raghunathan said the partnership is important for several reasons.
“This really represents, I think, our first win in terms of a semiconductor company actually setting up a physical office and a design center in Indiana, especially in West Lafayette in such close proximity to Purdue University,” he said. “We also view this as a terrific model going forward for other companies to see how those three pillars – namely research, education and workforce development – can go hand in hand synergistically.”
The chip design center will be located inside the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration. Raghunathan says the center will focus on research and development, as well as feeding the workforce pipeline for MediaTek.
“One of the big advantages of course is that they’re located so close to Purdue, virtually on the Purdue campus, and so research and development and tight collaboration with the university is going to be an integral part of it,” he said. “We’re still brainstorming and discussing and figuring out exactly what the technical scope is going to be [for] the research relationship between Purdue and the MediaTek folks in this design center.”
Raghunathan says, from a broad perspective, they have identified some areas where there will be a “solid, synergistic relationship.” They include next-generation computer architectures and chips for next-generation communications architectures such as 6G.
While the center will focus on research and design, MediaTek will not be manufacturing any chips in West Lafayette. Raghunathan says MediaTek is a fabless semiconductor company, which means another party does the manufacturing of chips as a service.
“I know that Purdue is in discussions with other companies to have that semiconductor manufacturing component follow very soon to Indiana and, hopefully, close to Purdue. But, that is going to be independent of MediaTek.”
The partners are looking to get the center up and running over the next several months. Hiring for electrical engineering and chip design positions in West Lafayette is expected to begin soon.
“MediaTek already hires quite a bit from Purdue, and we’re hoping that essentially some of that pipeline will get redirected almost immediately to this West Lafayette design center,” said Raghunathan.
Looking long-term, Raghunathan says he hopes the partnership can be expanded with MediaTek not only adding more jobs, but also funding research projects and chair professorships to attract top research talent from around the world.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Taiwan-based chipmaker is partnering with Purdue University to establish a new chip design center on the West Lafayette campus. MediaTek says the center, which is expected to create up to 30 jobs, represents its first partnership with an American university, as well as a new growth model for the company.
The partners did not immediately disclose the financial investment in the center, which will be located at the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Purdue’s Discovery Park District.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says the partnership will focus on chip design in engineering education, as well as joint research into next-generation chip design.
“We believe strongly that being in Indiana means we’ll have access to some of the best engineering talent in the world,” Dr. Kou-Hung Lawrence Loh, corporate senior vice president of MediaTek and president of MediaTek USA, said in written remarks. “Not just at Purdue, but West Lafayette is only four hours away from nearly a dozen of the top engineering schools in the country. In the post-pandemic world, top candidates tell us they want to be closer to home, near family, and they want to have a real house and great schools. Indiana offers all that and more.”
The partnership was announced today during the SelectUSA Investment Summit by Governor Eric Holcomb, Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, and Mung Chiang, dean of the Purdue College of Engineering and president-elect of the university.
MediaTek is billed as the fourth-largest global semiconductor company in the world. The company provides chips for wireless communications, high-definition TVs, and mobile devices, among other products.
MediaTek employs more than 19,000 people worldwide and plans to begin hiring for electrical engineering and chip design positions in West Lafayette soon.
The IEDC says the partnership establishes a new microelectronics ecosystem in West Lafayette. The announcement comes less than a month after the state launched the Accelerating Microelectronics Production & Development Task Force with the goal of becoming a leader in the semiconductor industry.
“Today’s MediaTek’s chip design center investment is a testament to Indiana’s advanced manufacturing expertise, our world-class university talent combined with our state’s best in class business-friendly climate and focus on higher wage industries of the future,” said Chambers. “Our team fully expects that MediaTek’s announcement is just the beginning of semiconductor investment in Indiana, and in the coming years the AMPD task force will be instrumental in facilitating further investment momentum from this critically important industry to the state.”
Late last month, Purdue detailed plans to launch a Semiconductor Degrees Program. The university says it will work with MediaTek to create new chip design engineering degree programs, as well as research on artificial intelligence, and communications chip design.
The IEDC has offered MediaTek USA up to $1.4 million in conditional tax credits, which the company will be eligible to claim once Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. The Purdue Research Foundation has offered additional incentives.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — West Lafayette-based Inotiv Inc. (Nadaq: NOTV) says it will close two facilities in Virginia that are currently operated by its Indianapolis-based subsidiary, Envigo RMS. One of the facilities is a dog breeding facility in Cumberland that is the subject of a lawsuit alleging animal welfare law violations.
Inotiv says the closure of the Cumberland facility, as well as a rodent breeding facility in Dublin, Virginia is part of a restructuring following the company’s $545 million acquisition of Envigo last November.
According to the lawsuit filed last month, multiple federal inspections resulted in dozens of violations, including findings that dogs had received inadequate medical care and insufficient food, were housed in filthy conditions, and some had been euthanized without first receiving anesthesia.
The inspections also found hundreds of dogs dead at the facility. Officials also recently seized 145 beagles in “acute distress” at the facility.
Inotiv CEO Robert Leasure says the company recognized the need for improvements and investments at the facility since the company acquired Envigo.
“Inotiv has been pleased with the continued and significant progress in improvements at the Cumberland facility since the acquisition, as evidenced by recent inspections by the USDA and other auditing organizations,” Leasure said in written remarks. “The required investments to improve the facility and the lead time to achieve these improvements have recently increased. As a result, we have decided we will not be investing further in this facility, and it will be closed.”
Leasure says the Cumberland facility comprises less than 1% of the company’s total revenue and has not contributed to profits since the Envigo acquisition.
Inotiv adds production at the Dublin facility will be relocated to other facilities that have been recently expanded or refurbished.
The transitions are expected to be complete by December. Inotiv did not specify if any jobs would be affected.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A surprise $8.5 million gift from the estate of a former professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University has been earmarked to support cancer research at the lab of renowned researcher Dr. Philip Low. The university says the gift from Dr. John Capaldi, who died in 2020, will fund more than 40 years’ worth of research.
According to Purdue, Capaldi told his attorney that after he died, he wanted his remaining assets to support cancer research in honor of his sister, who died of cancer.
“I was absolutely knocked off my feet when I found out what was in his estate,” Low said in written remarks. “These funds have come at a perfect time for my lab, in that we have been blessed with many good ideas on how to treat cancer but have been short on the funding to develop them. Over my 40-year career, I’ve taken the time to record my very best ideas, and with this remarkable gift from Dr. Capaldi, I won’t have to delay exploring them anymore.”
The gift includes Capaldi’s Purdue-funded retirement account. As opposed to federal grants, which require precise proposals on how the funding will be used, Low says he can use the funding to pursue discoveries as they arise.
“I found that simply asking that question can open up opportunities that I would have never envisioned had I not stopped to think about the potential value to humanity of the work that I was doing,” said Low. “I do believe I have an obligation to minimize the suffering of cancer patients if I can.”
Low has received two approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over a span of less than six months for two cancer-based innovations.
Late last year, the FDA approved Cytalux, an imaging tool that uses fluorescent technology to help spot ovarian cancer tumors during surgery. Cytalux is marketed by Low’s company, On Target Laboratories, which aims to get the tool on the market later this year.
In March, the FDA approved Pluvicto, a treatment for men with advanced stage prostate cancer who have run out of treatment options. The drug is being sold by Novartis, which acquired Low’s former company, Endocyte, in 2018 for $2 billion.
Patrick Wolfe, dean of the College of Science at Purdue, says Capaldi’s gift will have a lasting impact on cancer research at the university.
“We are very proud to support Professor Low’s signature patient-focused treatments, and these funds will enable him and his laboratory to focus not only on several different cancers, but also on fibrotic, autoimmune and CNS diseases, as well as bone fractures and even inherited diseases,” said Wolfe. “All of us are eager to see what kind of exciting new treatments will emerge over time as a result of this transformational gift.”
Low recently spoke with Business of Health Reporter Kylie Veleta on the Pluvicto approval and why he wants to continue his research instead of retiring. You can watch the interview by clicking here.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Business is booming for a West Lafayette mom and entrepreneur after she recently appeared on “Shark Tank” and earned a deal for her breast milk storage product. Nickey Ramsey is the founder and chief executive officer of Junobie, which produces a first-of-its-kind reusable breast milk bag made from silicone.
In an interview with Business of Health Reporter Kylie Veleta, Ramsey said the idea was born after she was unable to find plastic-free storage bags for her breast milk. Click here to watch interview
“I wanted an option that was going to be reusable and also something that was not going to be plastic because we all know about the chemicals that can leech into our water and our food when we use plastic,” said Ramsey.
Ramsey says in addition to being plastic-free, Junobie brings other benefits. She said it was important for the product to be able to tolerate high heat.
“They’re made with silicone, and silicone is high-heat tolerant. It’s hypoallergenic. It’s naturally bacteria resistant, and you can reheat it many times and don’t have to worry about plastic leeching,” she said. “I love that the product also transitions with the baby as the baby grows…to a food storage bag and then also to a snack pouch in their primary school years.”
In February, Ramsey appeared on “Shark Tank” and calls the experience a dream come true. She was able to seal a deal with Emma Grede for a $100,000 investment and a 22.5% equity in the company.
“We were able to get a deal with Emma Grede and it has been life changing for us as far as the amount of people that were able to see our company on national television and the amount of families that we’re going to be able to help now as Junobie is continuing to grow so quickly from being on the show.”
Before the “Shark Tank” experience, Ramsey, a Purdue University graduate, says she received help from the Purdue Foundry to get up and running.
“I needed something that was going to allow me to learn about business, and Purdue Foundry was it. We’re very thankful for the Foundry program and them just fostering Junobie in our early years.”