To date, Rapidus has alliances with International Business Machines and Microelectronics Research Center (IMEC) based in Belgium. It also has the support of local giants, including Toyota Motor, Sony Group and SoftBank Group.
Higashi noted that Japan has domestic suppliers of all the important materials, components and production machines that go into making chips. Many of them are eager to work with a Japanese chipmaker because they can cooperate closely without worries about losing technological advantages or secrets to a foreign company. Rapidus’ success also means that the domestic sector can keep its profits high enough to remain relevant amidst the fierce global competition.
Taiwan’s exports fell in March as chip demand remained weak
“Enormous opportunities await us if we can become the first to market, and if we focus on making chips for specific areas, such as artificial intelligence,” Higashi said.
No private financing
Japan is home to a unique group of specialty suppliers, including Ajinomoto Corporation and Advantest Corp.
All Rapidus funding now comes only from the government and its corporate partners. Higashi said Rapidus has no intention of resorting to private sector funds until the company begins chip production, which is likely in 2027.
He said, “We are considering taking different measures to raise funds such as an IPO, but our ultimate goal is to become financially independent, and make steady steps towards making advanced chips. So it is necessary that no cash injections interfere with that.”