LONDON Industry lobbying group Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI Europe) used an interview by the BBC with Luc Van den Hove, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at IMEC, to push its efforts to promote the competitiveness of Europe's semiconductor industry.
Interviewed Tuesday (April 14) live on BBC World News Business Report, Van den Hove stressed that "to keep Europe competitive, the entire semiconductor ecosystem needs to remain in Europe, and not only state-of-the-art research programs as offered by research centers such as IMEC.
"Also the complete value chain including manufacturing which is now moving more and more to Asia and U.S., needs to stay in Europe. In this way, the European industry can have cost- and time-efficient access to critical semiconductor technologies."
Heinz Kundert, President of SEMI Europe, added that "Discussing the critical semiconductor issue among ourselves and the EU is no longer enough, we need to reach out to a larger audience. Everyone understands an airplane and a car, but not a semiconductor. Yet, it is these that are driving the innovation."
SEMI has started a concerted campaign to try and elicit more support from the authorities for semiconductor manufacturing in Europe and send an alert about the high stakes involved in Europe losing its competitiveness.
Last month at an event at IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) it warned regulators and law makers in Europe that Europe needs to take co-ordinated, strong and urgent action to ensure the continent can remain competitive in the semiconductor and nanotechnologies sectors.
It has also arranged for Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO of analysts group Future Horizons (Sevenoaks, Kent), to give a seminar on the role of the silicon chip to the European Commission in Brussels, which is scheduled for April 23.
Referencing data from Future Horizons, Van den Hove noted that Europe had managed to maintain its world market share at around 12 percent over the past 30 years despite increasingly intense global competition, initially from the U.S., then Japan, Korea and now South East Asia.
"This reflects both Europe's ongoing world leadership in chip technology and application and its pioneering partnership and risk-sharing initiatives," commented Penn.
The head of Future Horizons added that European chip companies' Achilles heel was the continent's increasingly uncompetitive manufacturing infrastructure.
"The R&D and chip may represent only 20 percent of the system cost but they are 100 percent of the functionality and holistically inseparable from a manufacturing perspective. The chip must follow the system … this is a very serious threat to Europe's chip industry," he warned.
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