(October 9, 2008) STUTTGART, Germany In an effort to increase Europe’s microelectronic industry competitiveness, SEMI has published a paper outlining six recommendations. Heinz Kundert, president of SEMI Europe, explained the impetus for this paper, as well as the outcome, during his presentation, “What We Can Accomplish Together” at SEMICON Europa, Tuesday, October 7, 2008.
“SEMI members worry that a further decline of the mainstream microelectronics manufacturing base will have a negative impact on Europe’s overall competitiveness,” stated Kundert. He outlined the landscape of the past two years, citing a reduction of manpower in IC fabs, outsourcing manufacturing to other regions, a shift in priorities from growth to short-term profitability, lack of new fabs, migration to a fabless model, and shrinking margins due to economics and unbalanced funding when compared with other areas.
On the up side, Kundert cited investment initiatives by sponsored by the EU and national governments, which include funding for state-of-the-art technology, Germany’s initiatives in “clusters of excellence” such as wireless and solar markets, a 3.6B Euro program backed by France aimed at Crolles3, a mobilization of strengths by the Dresden city/state of Saxony, and an infusion of $25B of funds into ICT technology by Russia in the next two years. “There are attractive programs to make sure the industry keeps up,” he said. With 37% of the world’s GDP, high tech and low cost manufacturing, and world class R&D facilities and education, Kundert said there was no reason not to be in Europe with manufacturing. He added that Europe holds leading positions in telecommunications, automotive electronics, health, and energy.
As example of the region’s commitment to growth, Kundert cited Bosch’s plans to build a 200mm foundry equipped with refurbished equipment. “Bosch is building exactly what the industry needs, he said. He also cited Abu Dabi’s partnership with AMD to establish a new company Foundry Co., comprising AMD’s two facilities in Dresden, Germany and a new foundry planned for Saratoga, NY, as a good move, because AMD becomes a fabless entity with the spin-off serving as the foundry. He said this gives hope that there could be a new foundry model developing.
The resulting white paper, available at www.semi.org/Europe, is supported by 80–90% of the people in the ecosystem, said Kundert. The stated recommendations are to develop a European vision for the industry; increase funding for R&D and manufacturing; promote the microelectonics supply chain; cultivate education and welcome talent; protect and enforce intellectual property (IP); and involve SEMI Europe in new EHS legislation.