With regard to producing programs to reduce the cost of access to IP, attempts along these lines have a troubled history. It is reminiscent of the Virtual Component Exchange (VCX) which back in the late 1990s promised to stimulate a market in IP blocks.
It failed to impact a market that was, in any case, growing at its own pace and continues to be based on conventional two-party contracts. The VCX was formed in 1997 and was primarily funded by Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s inward investment agency, and no doubt burnt a lot of money and wasted a lot of committee-sitting time.
Given that the GSA cap-lite WG seems to be a bit further along than the EMA, the EMA may yet become the means of trying to deliver GSA's cap-lite vision in Europe. David Baillie, CEO of CamSemi should be well plugged in to both initiatives.
However, it seems to me that the free market is like gravity in a world where money is like water; it flows where it must, and King Canute on the foreshore has little power. If we puny humans are going to try and alter the market tide, the spending required tends to be enormous and the results tend to take a long time (years or even decades) to become manifest.
The money goes where opportunity is and the entrepreneurs go where the money is, and where they can be nurtured by it. Evidence for this can be seen in the UK with companies like Neul Ltd. and Continuum Bridge Ltd. adopting cap-lite and chip-free startup business models.
Having said that EMA/GSA initiatives may be able to re-arrange the deckchairs in a better way and create some value.
Mentor through its experience with Cre8 Ventures, the predecessor to EMA, says the approach does produce a benefit, although this begs the question as to why Wally Rhines, chairman and CEO of Mentor, has not pursued the same approach in the U.S. I don’t think he has anyway.
On balance I don't think that either EMA or the GSA’s cap-lite WG will make a big difference to the absolute number of fabless semiconductor startups being created. But they may increase the chances of success for those that they do engage with. And so their endeavors should be welcomed, at least until such time as the support mechanisms are explained in detail and can be judged.
Related links and articles:
Group tackles declining VC for chips
Mentor offshoot nurtures European startups
Four Israel VCs bet on fabless