Basic research | Idea creation | Development
In 2012, TI invested more than 14 percent of its revenues in three key areas that help shape and drive social and environmental innovation: basic research, idea creation, and the area in which the bulk of our investments are made: development.
Over the last five years alone, we have spent nearly $9 billion on R&D, representing on average 13.5 percent of our revenue. Of this, we directed more than $80 million at university research projects. Our investments are leading us into the next generation of innovation, into such areas as energy harvesting, computational photography, biomedical electronics, power management, analog technology and robotics.
We embed R&D teams in every business unit across the company, where they work directly with customers and stay attuned to market realities. This ensures that our customers quickly benefit from such innovations as increased performance, lower power, enhanced features, greater interoperability and inexorable miniaturization – from manufacturing technology to packaging, testing, design, software and support tools.
Approximately 1 percent of TI's total R&D spending is in basic research – activities with intrinsic long-term value that may not have immediate commercial benefits. Projects considered for funding must align with our strategic priorities and be based on peer-reviewed scientific research. The majority of our investment in basic research supports university research.
Through the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), TI and other SRC members fund more than 500 projects at more than 120 universities worldwide that involve more than 1,000 graduate students. The SRC is a consortium of semiconductor companies that collaboratively funds university research in semiconductor technology and design.
TI is a core member of the SRC, which helps ensure a steady stream of university research contributions and students graduating with advanced science and engineering degrees in fields related to semiconductor technology. We benefit from research findings and receive a nonexclusive, royalty-free license to all university-generated intellectual property. This helps us refine our future product offerings and increase competitiveness.
To inspire innovation in semiconductor manufacturing, we also provide funding for labs and facilities that help university students and faculty stay at the forefront of semiconductor technology. Investments have included providing our products for design work, supplying lab equipment, or building or upgrading engineering facilities.
Additionally, we directly fund various university R&D projects through our business units. Each project has a team of employees who decide which universities, projects and fellowships to support. A portion of this funding is directed toward basic research.
Our investment in "idea creation" – the generation of new product ideas – represents about 1 percent of total R&D spending. When evaluating ideas, we consider novelty and game-changing capability, potential return on investment, early market applicability, societal benefit, and cost.
Our three primary innovation centers are designed to drive incremental improvements across our product portfolio, as well as breakthrough technologies:
- Kilby Labs Dallas (Texas) focuses primarily on energy management, medical and health care, cloud computing, and safety and security applications.
- Kilby Labs India develops state-of-the-art solutions for smartphones, wireless base stations, video security, high-performance analog and much more. It also supports the needs of the Indian semiconductor market, including industrial electronics, medical electronics, consumer products, telecommunications and automotive.
- Silicon Valley Labs (California) works extensively in analog and mixed-signal processing.
Each idea selected for analysis is supported by a business unit, which assigns experts to the lab for one or two years to develop feasible concepts.
Additionally, these other formal entities help drive innovation at TI:
- Systems and Applications Labs inject new best-in-class technology into current and future products such as video, imaging and vision; communication systems; lighting; motor control; speech and audio; solar; and systems architecture.
- The Analog Technology Development (ATD) Breakthrough Ideas program encourages invention and innovation among employees and provides an avenue that supports feasibility testing of those ideas.
- ATD Research Projects funds and allocates expert time to support feasibility demonstrations.
- Our Technical Advisory Board assesses technological areas the company should pursue. Members include TI Senior Fellows and selected technology managers.
Outside the company, our investments in idea creation include work in biomedical electronics. This money is currently being used to research feasibility demonstrations of seven biomedical product ideas.
The vast majority of our R&D spending is spread across four areas of development: designing, testing, perfecting and launching. All new projects must meet technical specifications, detailed market assessments and manufacturability reviews. The average life cycle for these R&D projects is two years, and 76 percent or more are successfully transitioned into development.
An estimated 0.5 percent of R&D spending is allocated to environmental innovation such as smart grid technology, electronics to support renewable energy and energy harvesting. This allocation also supports TI's involvement in industry initiatives, a majority of which in turn supports research at the Environmental, Safety and Health Engineering Research Center at the University of Arizona. The research center is cofunded through the Semiconductor Research Corporation and the International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative. TI funds both organizations and contributes expertise through technical advisory boards.
TI invests in a variety of programs to drive social innovation, which include science, technology, engineering and math education initiatives; diversity fellowships at various universities to encourage women and minorities to pursue science and engineering degrees; and several programs to develop products that help improve health care.