By Max Hunder
KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine set out ambitions on Thursday to develop high-tech industries, proposing future state support for the creation of a chipmaking industry and to build up artificial intelligence.
The plan, dubbed Win 2030, comes more than 21 months into an all-out war with Russia that the Ukrainian army’s commander-in-chief has said requires Kyiv to make a technological breakthrough.
The ideas were laid out by Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov and his deputy, Valeria Ionan, at a presentation in a closely-guarded basement in central Kyiv.
The event was also attended by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who stressed the importance of technological innovation to achieving victory.
“Without innovation, I am deeply convinced our victory is possible, but will take much longer,” Shmyhal said.
Fedorov, who is also a deputy prime minister and an ally of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, vowed policy changes to drive tech growth, citing the example of the more than 20 changed laws which he said simplified drone imports and manufacturing.
Fedorov said Ukraine was already using AI to help kamikaze drones find their targets, as well as to recognise the faces of Russian soldiers.
Ionan said Ukraine was aiming to be in the global top 15 countries for the development of microelectronics and the global top 30 for unmanned vehicles.
“Ukraine rather highly assesses its chances to make its contribution to the European Union’s ambitious goal to get 20% of global market share in semiconductors (by 2030),” she said.
Ionan said Ukraine had ambitions for a chip factory, as well as “fabless” enterprises which do not manufacture their own semiconductors.
The ministry estimated the total cost of a facility which would be able to make 50,000 chips a year at $5-10 billion. It gave a potential 2025 start date for construction and said it would take three years to reach manufacturing capacity.
Chip manufacturing facilities are often prohibitively expensive, as the machines which use advanced technologies to etch the chip’s architecture onto silicon cost tens of millions of dollars apiece.
Funding plans for the ambitious projects were not laid out, and Fedorov conceded government money was extremely scarce.
Speaking to reporters after the event, Fedorov said the ministry would initially offer non-monetary support to projects and would also be looking for private capital.
However, he conceded that state support in some form would be necessary.
“Of course, for a chip factory, you need state assistance, because its hard to accumulate (a chipmaking) enterprise. Of course it should be a private initiative… but state help is also needed.”
(Reporting by Max Hunder; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Elaine Hardcastle)