ICs and Microelectronics

Envisioning European Semiconductor Supremacy

15 September 2014

The European Commission announced an effort last year to secure a solid share of semiconductor manufacturing for the European Union by 2020.

Entitled EU 10|100|20, the initiative is being overseen by the European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council (ENIAC). This initiative has aspects similar to the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s “Nanoelectronics for 2020 and Beyond,” which was established in a bid to ensure supremacy in electronics manufacturing for the United States.

The European Union (EU) initiative seeks to gain back some of the semiconductor manufacturing market share lost to Asia and the U.S. As described at the time of its release by Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, the strategy is meant to get at least 20% of semiconductor manufacturing back to Europe by 2020.

The initiative consists of three pillars: 10 billion euros ($13.28 billion) in private and public investment in research and innovation, 100 billion euros for industry investment in manufacturing and 20% of the world chip production market in Europe by 2020. Its name is derived from these three goals, 10/100/20.

Among other strategic goals, EU 10|100|20 will focus on reversing Europe’s declining share of micro- and nanoelectronics manufacturing, facilitating access to funds through loans to qualified companies, creating a global playing field, promoting Europe’s collaborative strength, facilitating cross-border partnerships, and creating a skilled European workforce.

Kroes said she wants Europe to produce more chips on the Continent than the United States produces domestically. She said this represents a realistic goal "if we channel our investments properly. We have to reinforce and connect our existing strongholds and develop new strengths.”

This is not merely a vision, according to Rania Georgoutsakou, director of public policy in Europe. It also represents a strategy that will bring together researchers and companies to leverage an opportunity for equipment manufacturers and material suppliers to participate in "big-scale investment projects, acquire new technologies and reach to new markets and customers.”

The long-term beneficiaries are expected to be the semiconductor supply chain at large, including design providers, device manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, materials suppliers, research centers and a wide range of companies. All these players will be offered access to leading technologies and European research centers.

With a total of 750 science and industry partners, the focus will be on three technology zones.

The first is Dresden, Germany, which is known as the “Silicon Valley of Europe” and “Silicon Saxony.” This region has 301 science and industry partners.

A second center will be in and around Grenoble, France, which, with 204 partners, ranks among the most important European centers in micro- and nanotechnology.

The third zone encompasses the tri-city area of Eindhoven, Netherlands; Leuven, Belgium; and Aachen, Germany. These cities are geographically close to one another and their partnership aims to promote international and inter-regional cooperation in knowledge and innovation. This region counts 245 partners.

The 10/100/20 vision began to take shape in May 2013 with the launch of five pilot programs under the ENIAC Joint Undertaking (JU), an EU funding program which focuses on nanoelectronics. The combined investment in these five pilot programs is more than 700 million euros and has brought together more than 120 partners from across Europe to perfect new technologies and tools for gallium nitride substrates, 450mm equipment and materials, new micro-electromechanical systems, smart sensors and actuators, 300mm power generation semiconductors, fully depleted silicon on insulator and other technologies.

An industrial roadmap for implementing this initiative was published last February by the Electronic Leaders Groups (ELG), an entity created by the European Commission and consisting of companies ARM, ASML, Globalfoundries, Fraunhofer, Imec, Intel NXP, SOITEC, CEA and STMicroelectronics. The most important industry objective, according to the ELG, is to double the value of semiconductor production. It envisions doing this by targeting some markets to double the current production volume of existing markets where Europe is competitive (such as automotive, energy, automation and security); capture 60% of new high-growth markets where Europe has strong skills (such as "smart everything" and the Internet of Things); and reach 20% of mobile convergence (through mobile and wireless channels).

However, the roadmap acknowledges the need to reinforce still other actions before it can be fully satisfied. Among these are the need to upgrade existing fabs to support full-capacity manufacturing, building new fabs, supporting the next generation of materials and tools for 300mm and 450mm technologies, and reinforcing the cooperation between research technology centers and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The roadmap also recommends investment in new technologies that support competitiveness after 2020. Some of the suggestions include very-low-power technology, high performance digital technology based on silicon on insulator, photonics integration, 3D packaging, computer languages and compilers, organic materials, and gallium nitride technology.

The roadmap lays out a timetable for different tracks. Funding is available to all companies in the EU. Companies located outside the EU are eligible if they already have cooperation agreements with EU institutions. EU funding is also available for research centers, universities and other technology clusters.



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