Four of the leading micro- and nanoelectronics regions in Europe are joining forces to form a cluster alliance called “Silicon Europe.” The four groups, Silicon Saxony (Dresden/Germany), DSP Valley (Belgium), Minalogic (Grenoble/France) and Point One (Eindhoven/Netherlands), will be cooperating in research, development and business expertise.
Together they represent about 800 research institutes and companies, which account for more than 150,000 jobs; among the companies are global market leaders such as Philips, NXP, Globalfoundries, Infineon, STMicroelectronics, Schneider Electric und Thales.
This is a three year effort, as shown in the diagram. “We want to set up a joint action plan that is organized between the four clusters,” said Frank Bösenberg, in charge of administration of Silicon Europe, speaking at a press conference in Dresden. “Not only this, in the third year, we also want to start implementing this action plan. It’s not only about creating paper, but doing some action. In addition to this, we want to involve if possible additional European players.”
“Global competition is tough and investments into European microelectronics are declining”, says Jean Chabbal, Chief Representative and CEO at the French Cluster Minalogic (Grenoble/France). In 2007 only 10% of all worldwide investments into microelectronics, around 28 billion Euro, went to Europe, while about 48% went to Asia. Since 2000 Europe’s market share in the semiconductor industry has dropped from 21 to 16 percent, yet the European microelectronics sector still employs 135,000 people directly along with another 105,000 in its supplier industries. “Europe is home to a number of the world’s best known, and most active regions in the micro- and nanoelectronics industry and the semiconductor industry, more specifically. These clusters, established over many years, with strong consolidated structures from industry, research and local governments, serve all application fields of micro- and nanoelectronics and have access to the most advanced research and key competencies – the European micro- and nanoelectronics sector must take advantage of this leading position and further expand upon it. This is the only way for Europe to maintain its role as a world-renowned leader in technology research and development”, continues Jean Chabbal.
Silicon Saxony (Dresden) is a unique conglomeration of companies with know-how in micro- and nanoelectronics, photovoltaic, organic and printed electronics, energy efficient systems, communications technology and sensor networks. More than 300 cluster partners employ 48,000 people.
At the cluster Minalogic (Grenoble) 204 cluster partners with more than 39,000 employees develop modern micro- and nanoelectronics and integrated system-on-chip technologies. Their work applies to the sectors energy efficiency, connectivity and mobility, health systems and traditional industries.
Point-One (Eindhoven) connects 170 cluster partners, who jointly develop solutions for mechatronics, integrated systems, photonics and micro-and nanoelectronics. Their solutions apply to lighting systems, to semiconductor and photovoltaic production and also the mobility, logistics and security branches.
The 75 partners of the technology cluster DSP Valley (Leuven) are focusing on the development of hardware and integrated software technology for digital signal processing and system-on-chip solutions.
Silicon Europe calls for a European ICT-Summit
“Our activities and plans will not end at national borders as they did before – Silicon Europe stands for the common interest of the European microelectronics industry”, explains Peter Simkens, Managing Director at the Belgian Cluster DSP Valley. “However, to be successful in the long run, Silicon Europe and European microelectronics need active political support. We are appealing to all national governments to increase the synchronization of their economic and innovation policy with the European Commission and its guidelines. In order to realize this we are calling for a European micro- and nanoelectronics summit, which – similar to the German IT summit – shall bring together leading actors and decision makers from the European Commission, the national governments and all relevant branch organizations and associations. The European economy needs to expand on its strengths now, if it wants to remain competitive in the global market for the long run.”
Transnational Cluster Alliance as a new impetus
“Silicon Europe stands for a new quality of an European industry policy”, says Thomas Reppe, General Manager of the German Cluster Silicon Saxony. “In close cooperation with regional development agencies and institutes we transfer the cluster concept of Saxony’s Research Cluster for Energy Efficiency ‘Cool Silicon’ – the strong cooperation across organizational and institutional borders - onto a transnational level. Through this new and strong cluster alliance we are securing not only Europe’s current know-how in production of KET relevant technologies, but we are also working together on a strategic technology roadmap, which can serve the European Commission as a template and development guide for future programs.”
Silicon Europe offers a platform for active exchange among the clusters and their nearly 800 members, including internationally leading corporations; more than 75 percent of all partners are small and medium sized businesses. By performing a detailed analysis of each of the four cluster’s main research topics and by synchronizing their activities, previously unused synergies are being utilized.
By intensifying transnational cooperation of regional research-oriented competence clusters, Silicon Europe will make a substantial contribution to “Europe 2020”, the EU growth strategy for the coming decade. The program’s focus is the advancement of research and development as a basis for a modern and strengthened European society. “With their activities, the European Commission aims at a digital and resource-efficient development – for both of these core goals micro- and nanoelectronics are a decisive factor”, says Eelco van der Eijk, contact person for the high-tech industry at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. One of the key words for these activities is ‘smart specialization’ – the EU’s control mechanism to tailor and efficiently distribute development funds in the European technology regions.
Michael Kretschmer, Vice-Chairman of the CDU Parliamentary Group at the German Bundestag, member of the German Bundestag and member of the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment explains his support for the initiative: “The Europe-Cluster of the micro- and nanoelectronics sites is a very important signal for both German and European politics. Together and across national borders we have to ensure that this key technology still has a home in Europe in the future. In the past, European clusters seldomly worked together – luckily, this is going to change now. I appreciate the Silicon Europe initiative and wish for it to find numerous supporters and advocates also in the German Bundestag and the German government. The high-tech nation Germany can simply not forego these technologies that by enabling innovations in various industries create jobs and prosperity”.