Dresden -- Four of the leading micro- and nano-electronics regions in Europe are joining forces to form the transnational Cluster Alliance Silicon Europe—The Leaders in Energy Efficient ICT Electronics. The cluster partners from Germany, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands are linked by a common goal: They aim to secure and expand Europe's position as the "world's leading center for energy efficient micro- and nanoelectronics and information and communications technology (ICT)." To reach this goal, Silicon Saxony (Dresden/Germany), DSP Valley (Belgium), Minalogic (Grenoble/France), and Point One (Eindhoven/Netherlands) are 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, and Thales. This makes Silicon Europe one of the largest technology clusters of the world.
Micro- and Nanoelectronics—Key Enabling Technologies
The European Commission considers micro- and nano-electronics to be one of the key enabling technologies (KET) that will determine whether a business location will be thriving and sustainable in the future. Chips are all around us: there is not one computer, mobile phone, automobile, or application without a chip. Electronic components optimize production processes and enable new communications technologies. For this reason, micro- and nano-technology can leverage an innovative and competitive European economy.
"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, 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%, 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 nano-electronics 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 nano-electronics and have access to the most advanced research and key competencies. The European micro- and nano-electronics 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 Europe Calls for 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
"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% 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 used.
Silicon Europe Contributes to EU Growth Strategy
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 nano-electronics 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 nano-electronics 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 seldom 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."
The Cluster Partners
Silicon Saxony (Dresden) is a unique conglomeration of companies with know-how in micro- and nano-electronics, photovoltaics, organic and printed electronics, energy efficient systems, communications technology, and sensor networks. The more than 300 cluster partners employ 48,000 people.
At the Minalogic (Grenoble) cluster, 204 cluster partners, with more than 39,000 employees, develop modern micro- and nano-electronics and integrated system-on-chip technologies. Their work applies to the 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 nano-electronics. Their solutions apply to lighting systems, semiconductor and photovoltaic production, and also the mobility, logistics, and security branches.
The 75 partners of the technology DSP Valley (Leuven) cluster are focusing on the development of hardware and integrated software technology for digital signal processing and system-on-chip solutions.