For those of us at Kiterocket who support marketing and communications for clients in the semiconductor industry, the calendar revolves not from January to December, but from July to July, in preparation for and execution of our clients’ presence at SEMICON West. The show is North America’s premier event for semiconductor manufacturers, suppliers, and technology innovators. This year’s event, which took place July 11-13 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, was palpably marked by signs of change combined with the promise of explosive growth, leading to exciting opportunities.

The first and most obvious sign of change at SEMICON West 2017 was the gaping hole where half of SEMICON West used to be, as Moscone Center’s South Hall gets a major face-lift. We were happy those renovations weren’t happening in the North Hall, as we once again hosted the Impress Lounge—our client-sponsored hospitality suite—on the roof.

Working without South Hall had a significant impact on exhibitors, however. In the past, the halls were neatly divided, with packaging suppliers in the North Hall and wafer processing suppliers in the South Hall, with West Hall serving the co-located Intersolar North America event. This year, in a nod to the ever-blurring line between advanced packaging and wafer processing (and to handle the reduced available floor space), SEMI organizers intermingled front-end and back-end suppliers throughout North Hall and the first floor of West, while Intersolar occupied West’s second floor. It was good to hear that South Hall is expected to be back on line for 2018.

Since last year’s SEMICON West, we’ve seen a significant changing of the guard in SEMI’s executive leadership. During the press conference, Ajit Manocha, the new president of SEMI Global, spoke about his first 100 days, during which he traveled the globe, with his first stop at SEMICON China. He reported that we can expect 2017 to be the best year ever, with the industry pushing toward all-time records: a $1.6T electronics industry, with $400B revenue in semiconductors alone. Much of this will be fueled by China’s investment in semiconductor manufacturing, as evidenced by an unheard-of 24 fabs popping up since last year. Manocha also attended the Washington Forum, where he engaged in policy discussions. He identified the four T’s—trade, taxation, technology funding, and talent—as SEMI’s key focus areas. “Free trade is not just a U.S. issue, it’s a global issue. The industry has thrived based on free trade. I hope the world leaders will continue to drive free trade,” he said, adding that he will continue to work with administrations around the world on behalf of the industry.

David Anderson, the new president of SEMI Americas, officially opened the show, and reported that this year’s event featured 530 companies exhibiting in 1,150 booths. Altogether, 18% of visitors are international, representing 14 countries. Anderson talked about this year’s theme: “Smart Starts Here,” chosen to align with four strategic growth areas: smart automotive, smart manufacturing, smart medical technologies, and the internet of things. “‘Smart Starts Here’ fits with SEMI’s mission, and reflects the many opportunities across the entire semiconductor supply chain, where R&D and manufacturing are vital to the future,” he said. As a member of the press, I was treated to a special tour of the exhibit, “The Smart Journey,” which featured an autonomous vehicle and a virtual reality experience.

For Kiterocket, the biggest change occurred during our annual SEMICON West After-Party, on Tuesday, July 11, sponsored by ASM, during which we officially launched Kiterocket to the semiconductor industry and retired the Impress Labs brand. More than 250 industry guests enjoyed an open bar, delicious appetizers, and great conversation. The highlight of the evening was our Polaroid photo board, where, in exchange for a small cash donation to the G1ve A Buck Fund for a “KidSizeCure,” guests could snap and post a Polaroid memory of their evening. Between that and the 3D InCites Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, July 12—which also benefited G1ve A Buck—we raised almost $2,000 for the cause, thanks to the generosity of this industry. If you missed our events, you can still donate via the website, here.

What stands out most in my mind at the close of this year’s SEMICON West are the words of keynote speaker Tetsuro Higashi of Tokyo Electron, who said: “It will be in the future, rather than the past, that the semiconductor industry will flourish. Healthy competition and global collaboration is the key to success.” At Kiterocket, we look forward to supporting our clients in these promising times.

For another perspective on the SEMICON West/Intersolar North America show week and Kiterocket launch, click here to read my colleague Tom Cheyney’s blog post.