LONDON Research institute IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) has appointed Kees den Otter, former president of TSMC Europe BV, to the position of vice president of emerging business. It is not entirely clear what Den Otter's role is in the not-for-profit IMEC, but IMEC has become increasingly financially-driven in recent years.
This is partly due to the extreme cost of putting down pilot fabs for nanoelectronic and extreme ultra-violet (EUV) lithography research, partly to the reduced significance of local government grants and partly to the cut backs in corporate research funding.
IMEC has become closer to TSMC over the years as it progressed from having Alcatel-Mietec, then Philips and NXP as its local semiconductor exploitation partners. With NXP's move to fab-lite and TSMC's rise as a global superpower in semiconductor manufacturing it has been natural for TSMC and IMEC to engage at multiple levels.
The Europractice IC service is hosted at IMEC and provides access to TSMC technology for many smaller companies and research groups through multiproject wafer (MPW) and dedicated wafer runs.
Kees den Otter stood down as president of TSMC Europe BV in 2007, making way for Maria Marced.
As IMEC has built a 300-mm pilot fab for leading-edge CMOS research its original 200-mm pilot line has been turned over to less geometrically demanding, but more exotic work, such as microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) integration and photovoltaic research. And in moves which may provide a clue to den Otter's role, IMEC has increasingly talked about "customers" for the 200-mm fab rather than "research partners."
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