GRENOBLE, France — Newly established Minatec (Maison des Micro et Nano Technologies) hopes to challenge Belgium’s IMEC and Dresden’s Silicon Saxony as a major European center dedicated to nanotechnology and electronics innovation.
Officials at the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and the National Polytechnic Institute of Grenoble (INP-Grenoble), the organizations that launched Minatec, hope to bring together a number of micro and nanotechnology research projects—often scattered throughout France and Europe—into one site here under the Minatec umbrella.
Minatec, with an operating budget of 100 million to 150 million euros per year, hopes to offer a blueprint for success in European nanotechnology R&D. One-third of the annual operational budget is expected to come from the French government, one third from industry partners and the remainder from grants and funding from the government/industrial partnerships, according to Minatec’s promoters.
Complete with existing and new research facilities including 200- and 300-mm pilot lines and 10,000 m2 clean rooms, Minatec is expected to attract by the end of 2007 a total of 4,000 researchers and engineers, including those from local and national laboratories, industrial partners and academia.
"We did not start Minatec from scratch," said Jean-Charles Guibert, director of CEA, which responsible for technology transfer and commercialization. With 2,000 scientists and engineers participating, Minatec is based on the existing local high-tech infrastructure. Members include CEA-Leti, one of Europe's largest microelectronics research institutes, leading French technical university INPG, industrial partners such as Crolles 2 Alliance among STMicroelectronics, Philips and Freescale.
Minatec received funding totaling 192.7 million euros from local authorities in France, CEA, government and private contributions to be used for installing new research equipment and building a new R&D facility.
Guibert called Minatec "a facilitator" to bridge between academia, research laboratories and industry. Minatec is neither public nor private. Rather, it's "a brand" designed to attract more researchers and engineers here, and to bring R&D projects focused on applied research and technology transfer, he explained.
In fact, Minatec's new research facilities scheduled for inauguration this week officially belong to CEA. "There are no employees working for Minatec, as they all depend on their own laboratory or company " said Guibert.
Minatec's 300-mm pilot lines operate around the clock, seven days a week. The operation is considered by some to be decidedly "un-French."
"Too much French on-site is a disaster," Guibert said, saying that would have an adverse impact when it needs to "build an open mentality, become internationally known and attract more funding from global industries."
|Minatec Innovation Center|