MUNICH, Germany Europe needs to master innovation and shape its own semiconductor future to restore competitiveness according to a report from the European Semiconductor Industry Association (ESIA).
The warning comes in the industry's second Competitiveness Report that was presented this week to European Commission Vice-President GŁnter Verheugen.
"Europe needs to take note of the dramatic semiconductor industry changes and act now to
safeguard a strong future presence. The ESIA calls for an effective, EU-driven nanoelectronics innovation policy, said Frans van Houten, the President of ESIA and
President and CEO of NXP Semiconductors.
At the meeting with Commission officials presenting the report were the CEOs and European general managers of Freescale Semiconductor, CEA-LETI, Micron Italy and STMicroelectronics.
Following the meeting, van Houten said : "We had an open and frank discussion with a highly engaged Commission Vice-President, and look forward to advancing the common issue of enhancing the competitiveness of Europe's semiconductor industry,
possibly through creation of a European sectoral policy for semiconductors."
Earlier this month, van Houten told a meeting of senior executives organized by the British government: "European industry could be under threat. In Asia manufacturing is a 24 hour a day operation - and design is moving that way," van Houten told his audience. "As Europe moves from production to R&D there is more focus on niche products, on specifications and IP [intellectual property]."
van Houten also called on Europeans not be risk averse. "European leadership in new applications gives us more chances. For many of these things we need to collaborate on R&D, with universities, with suppliers, with customers and with government agencies. Legislate for a tough environment, for example in the area of energy consumption."
Also earlier this year, Joseph Borel, former vice president of central R&D at STMicroelectronics NV and now boss of his own consultancy JBR&D, called for political intervention that could help create a European champion for chip R&D and manufacturing.
The executives at the Brussels meeting Monday (Nov.10) strongly recommended a broad consensus to establish micro-nanoelectronics as the overriding priority for EU-wide R&D efforts. They also called for
increased funding levels by both the EU and Member States to keep pace with the increasing R&D requirements and global competitor regions.
Efficient and effective R&D tax credit incentives based on best practices are one of the tools to be applied, the report suggets.