COVID-19 hit the world in early 2020 with very little warning. The semiconductor industry was poised for recovery, and all market indicators pointed to solid growth. For many of us, reality hit with the announcement that SEMICON Korea was canceled the day before it was set to start. Soon after, SEMICON China was postponed, and an industry dependent on global travel to conduct business was left hanging. What ensued was a very different kind of year than the one we anticipated.
If there is one thing we learned from 2020, it is how important it is to have a contingency plan. For event organizers, that meant pivoting quickly to shift from physical events to virtual ones. For equipment and materials suppliers, it meant learning how to conduct business without spending 80% of the time visiting customers around the world. For semiconductor manufacturers, it meant bolstering the supply chain to keep up with increasing demand because the world was working, learning, and socializing from home.
In January, Herb Reiter represented 3D InCites at the SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium in Half Moon Bay, CA, and Steffen Kröhnert, of ESPAT Consulting, joined the 3D InCites sales team and wore our colors at the 3D System Summit in Dresden. IMAPS decided to still hold the Device Packaging Conference in Fountain Hills, AZ, from March 2-5, 2020 by adhering to a strict no-handshake policy while doling out bottles of hand sanitizer. This meant we could host the 2020 3D InCites Awards Ceremony in person. Check out the photos in the 2021 Yearbook here.
Once events turned virtual, we covered more news and events than we ever had, simply because the information was merely a laptop click away. We had our own virtual booths, we Zoomed our interviews and I sat through many presentations. Our entire blogging team —including Phil Garrou, Herb Reiter, Dean Freeman, and me — divided and conquered. Sadly, however, after 7 years of serving as our 3D InCites EDA evangelist for 3D integration, Herb Reiter retired at the end of October. Those shoes will be difficult to fill, but we’re going to try.
While we all missed the hallway chatter and the in-person networking of physical events, we discovered new ways to connect. Relationships grew deeper and more personal, as we Zoomed into each other’s homes, and met pets, kids, and partners. Business casual was replaced by hoodies and t-shirts as we literally let our hair down.
At 3D InCites, we were lucky. Ironically, 2020 was the year we hit our stride. We launched our new community-centric platform, essentially providing our growing membership with a virtual venue that is always available. Trine Pierik, who joined the team in 2019, took on the daunting role of Community Director, keeping our virtual booths and member activities humming along, and supporting me behind the scenes with day-to-day tasks. Together, we helped FRT, ERS Electronic GmbH, and SEMI celebrate milestone anniversaries. And in the Yearbook’s cover story, we tell the story of the people behind DBI.
By the end of the year, 45 companies joined the community and were active participants. For example, Kiterocket and ERS Electronic GmbH had local teams attending SEMICON China, the only physical event that took place, and each provided interesting blog posts and these great photos. Also be sure to check out how our members navigated the pandemic, and what their predictions are for 2021 here.
For me personally, the silver lining of COVID-19 was growing the SemiSister network. What started out as local happy hours with SemiSisters in the Phoenix metro area has grown into two monthly social events: Happy Hour for the Pacific time zone, and a global social hour attended by SemiSisters worldwide, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, afternoon coffee, or a nightcap.
And we’ve got big plans for 2021.
As the semiconductor industry strives to improve sustainability practices, we’re dedicating a new blog topic to it, authored by Dean Freeman and other guest experts. Additionally, to expand our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, we’re establishing the 3D InCites DEI Fund through the Impress Foundation to support technology businesses that are owned by women or underrepresented minorities. The fund will be seeded by proceeds from the 3D InCites Awards program, which kicks off on Monday, February 15, 2021, as well as other efforts. I can’t wait to see what else this year brings. All of us at 3D InCites wish you continued success!