Experts believe the next frontier of the semiconductor and electronics industry in the Philippines, now mostly in assembly and test, is in integrated circuit (IC) design.

The Department of Trade and Industry said in a statement, professors Shuenn-Yuh Lee PhD and Cheng-Han Hsieh of the Taiwan-based National Cheng Kung University urged Filipino engineers to set up companies to encourage innovation in the IC design and establish a competitive digital niche in Asia.

Lee and Hsieh facilitated the 5th IC Design Training Program focusing on the importance of analog to digital and digital to analog converters.

Lee noted that home-grown engineers have increased their technical capability over the years. He further encouraged the trainees to innovate and even put up IC design start-ups to boost the digital revolution.

IC design is an essential part of the Philippine semiconductor and electronics industry and involves use of the particular logic and circuit design techniques required to design integrated circuits that has various applications: amplifier, oscillator, timer, counter, computer memory, or microprocessor.

An IC, commonly called a chip microchip, is a semiconductor wafer where tiny resistors, capacitors, and transistors are fabricated. In 2013 alone, the industry accounted for 28 percent of the country’s GDP output or revenues in excess of $21 billion and employed some 4 million directly and indirectly.

The country’s electronics industry roadmap envisions the country as a globally competitive electronics hub by 2030 with investments of $10 billion, exports of $112 billion and direct and indirect employment of up to 24 million.

In the short and medium-terms, the country’s total exports are expected to top $37 billion by 2016 and $52 bilion by 2022.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show the country’s electronics industry exported $16.28 billion from January to August 2014, a 5.2 percent increase from $15.28 billion in the same period last year.