NUS tech firm spin-off marks 25th anniversary


A COMPANY that spun off from the National University of Singapore (NUS) to develop cutting-edge technologies in the electronics industry celebrated its 25th anniversary yesterday.

Semicaps, the first firm to spin off from the NUS, began operating in 1989 led by the late Professor Jacob Phang, one of Singapore’s pioneering academic-technopreneurs.

Its first innovation was an invention that helps detect flaws in integrated circuit chips, a key component of computers.

It now designs and manufactures highly advanced microscopes that semiconductor firms use to locate faults within an integrated circuit.

Semicaps counts top global semiconductor firms, including Intel, Qualcomm, Micron, UMC and Global Foundries, among its clients.

Its tools, which are manufactured here, are sold for between US$1 million and US$2.5 million (S$3.1 million). There are 50 to 60 of its products in the market.

Much of the company’s progress over the past 25 years can be credited to the late Prof Phang’s pioneering spirit, his son Julian Pan told The Straits Times.

Mr Pan, who is one of the company’s directors, added that Semicaps has a significant “technology footprint” and has come a long way from its early days as a start-up.

Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang told staff, customers and guests attending an anniversary dinner at Suntec Convention Centre last night that Singapore needs to grow its pool of home-grown technology companies, which now make up just 7.4 per cent of all enterprises.

“Given the global nature of manufacturing and Singapore’s small domestic market, our high-tech small and medium-sized enterprises need to internationalise relatively early in their development,” said Mr Lim, noting that Semicaps had expanded overseas early in its growth to tap into larger markets and engage global clients.

He added that Semicaps’ “unflagging effort” to build itself up from a university spin-off into a leading manufacturer “is an inspiration to all budding entrepreneurs”.

Sectors: Technology
Countries: Singapore
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