Startup SEIDA and China's Push for Microchip Prowess

Roman Janson Follow Dec 30, 2023 · 2 mins read
Startup SEIDA and China's Push for Microchip Prowess
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A recent Reuters investigation highlights China’s aggressive efforts to achieve self-reliance and supremacy in advanced microchip technology, despite US attempts to contain its progress. The report profiles a new Chinese startup, SEIDA, which aims to sell highly specialized chip design software previously monopolized by Western firms.

SEIDA is led by a veteran Silicon Valley executive and staffed by defectors from the US-based Siemens EDA, a dominant player in the market. The company has tapped funding from Chinese state-backed chipmaker SMIC, which Washington banned from accessing US technology over national security concerns. SEIDA’s goal, as stated in an investor pitch, is to “break through the foreign monopoly” and make China a world leader in this critical domain.

The case encapsulates the immense challenge facing US containment strategy. Export controls and other restrictions aim to prevent China from matching the West’s chip innovations, which power technologies from AI to quantum computing with military applications. However, years working for Western firms provide Chinese experts valuable — and uncontrollable — know-how to replicate advances back home.

Talent recruitment programs like “Thousand Talents” further enable this knowledge transfer by luring top scientists and engineers to return. And determined investors stand ready to back Chinese startups that can overcome foreign monopolies, with SEIDA attracting powerful local venture firms. Even if dependent on some Western tools initially, the goal is self-sufficiency.

So while Washington’s actions may slow progress, most experts agree China has the talent, determination and resources to catch up over time. Dominance of advanced chipmaking, key to so many future industries and technologies, seems destined to become a more even playing field between the superpowers.

The contest will have massive implications economically and militarily. It also raises questions about the ethics of talent recruitment practices that leverage expertise gained partly from Western firms and institutions. However, China is unapologetic about using all available means to ascend strategically critical industries.

In the end, despite restrictive US policies, the interconnected nature of the global chipmaking industry resists containment. Barring a major change of tack, Beijing appears poised to chip away at US dominance bit by bit, supercharged by the expertise of Western-trained talents returning home. The prognosis suggests the future will demand sharing rather than monopolizing technological capstones.

Written by Roman Janson Follow
Senior News Editor at