European chip project worth 'billions' is making progress

December 27, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Talks on a funding project valued in the billions of euros and that could include support for European chip manufacturing are making progress, according to a senior executive with ECSEL.

ECSEL, which stands for Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership, is a public-private partnership and secretariat that selects and funds projects of collaborative research in Europe.

Speaking at the European Nanoelectronics Forum held in Rome on November 24, 2016, Ben Ruck, chairman of the ECSEL public authorities board, said that five countries together with relevant industrial partners are actively involved in the development of an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) in the field of micro- and nanoelectronics.

It is not clear whether this is the same IPCEI proposed by Rutger Wijburg, general manager of the Dresden wafer fab of Globalfoundries, in his Semicon Europa keynote given in November 2015. Wijburg's aim was gain support for chip manufacturing in Europe focused around the fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FDSOI) process Globalfoundries is developing with support from STMicroelectronics.

Getting an investment labelled as an IPCEI can unlock large-scale public investment. According to semiconductor industry body SEMI up to 20 percent of an IPCEI project cost can be covered by public funds, which might otherwise be against rules on state subsidy.

In his speech in Rome Ruck said the nanoelectronics IPCEI currently under discussion could be valued at billions of euros. However, it also seems likely that discussions have opened up the nanoelectronics IPCEI to cover support across the breadth of the nanoelectronics supply chain.

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