LONDON Semiconductor equipment maker ASML Holding NV is to go ahead with an R&D centre in Taiwan and has signed a contract Wednesday (April 4) with the country's Ministry of Economic Affairs to establish the "Center of Excellence" near Taipei.
The company signed a letter of intent to establish the R&D facility late last year, and ASML (Veldhoven, the Netherlands) said the facility will be operational in the second quarter of 2008.
ASML, the world's leading supplier of lithography equipment for semiconductor manufacturing, already has technology centers in Europe at its headquarters and in the United States at the University of Albany (New York). Discussions between ASML and the Taiwanese ministry are believed to have started in July 2006.
The company is not revealing the value of the investment in the technology centre, but last September, a report in the Taipei Times suggested ASML is considering spending as much as $300 million to set up such a center for the Asia-Pacific region in Taiwan, having rejected South Korea as a location. The report cited an official at Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs as its source.
ASML is already recruiting personnel for the ACE for customer support, training, application development, development and engineering, logistics, sourcing, and refurbishment and repair, and has secured a temporary facility while the construction of the R&D centre proceeds.
Earlier this year, the company said it was planning to hire 300 engineers and technicians from all over Europe over the next year, as well as take on 200 development engineers outside Europe, about half in the U.S. with the remainder in the Far East.
"The entire Asia-Pacific region is a key market for ASML; collectively it accounted for nearly two-thirds of our sales in 2006," said Eric Meurice, president and CEO, in a statement. "By establishing ACE, we will ensure that ASML continues to meet the growing demands of customers throughout this important region."
The Semiconductor Industry Association predicts that the entire Asia-Pacific region will see 12 percent growth year over year in 2007, outpacing industry growth in the rest of the world.