LONDON – Four European cluster organizations for electronics said they are launching a Silicon Europe alliance to improve research coordination and investment in electronics. A summit is being planned to discuss how manufacturing can be revived in the region.
Alliance members said they want to expand Europe's position as a leading center for energy efficient micro- and nanoelectronics along with information and communications technology (ICT). The cluster partners from Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands represent about 800 research institutes and companies accounting for more than 150,000 jobs.
The four groups are: Silicon Saxony (Dresden, Germany), DSP Valley (Belgium), Minalogic (Grenoble, France) and Point One (Eindhoven, Netherlands). Participating electronics companies include NXP, Globalfoundries, Infineon and STMicroelectronics.
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The initiative responds to Europe's dwindling significance in global electronics. "Global competition is tough, and investments into European microelectronics are declining," Jean Chabbal, CEO of France's Minalogic organization, warned in a statement.
In 2007, only 10 percent of worldwide investments in microelectronics, or about 28 billion euros (about $36 billion), went to Europe while about 48 percent went to Asia. Since 2000, Europe's market share in the semiconductor industry has dropped from 21 to 16 percent. The European microelectronics sector currently employs 135,000 workers directly along with another 105,000 in its supplier industries.
Silicon Europe made no specific mention of government funding for the R&D effort. The group did call for synchronization of economic and innovation policy.
The European Union will provide 2.8 million euros over the next three to launch Silicon Europe and defray administrative costs. The regional members will continue to rely on their own research budgets.
The planned summit will bring together experts in microelectronics and nanoelectronics along with officials from the European Commission, national governments and industry associations, said Peter Simkens, managing director at the Belgian's DSP Valley
The heads of the four regional groups said the ICT summit would help improve communications and coordination of manufacturing efforts. "We have to explain the enabling potential of electronics to the general public and politicians. We need to change the discussion so that people understand the need for and needs of strategic industries," said Thomas Reppe, general manager of the Silicon Saxony cluster.
I think Silicon Europe it is about public relations.
The R&D budget is at the level of the contributing organizations. Silicon Europe is about "synchronization" of effort and about persuading politicians and the general public in Europe that micro- and nanoelectronics is strategic to the future wealth of the continent.
Once that PR battle is won larger subsidies can flow to help Europe compete against U.S. and Asia.
I feel sure the participants would argue that any such subsidies would be just "leveling the playing field" as other regions tech firms are already subsidized.
And I am equally sure regions would probably cry "foul."