IPCEI on Microelectronics Austria – in talk with NXP, Infineon and AT&S

The Important Project of Common European Interest in Microelectronics from the perspective of the participating companies NXP, Infineon and AT&S.

„Important Projects of Common European Interest“ (IPCEI) is a key strategic instrument with regard to the implementation of the European Union Industrial Strategy. An IPCEI brings together knowledge, expertise, financial resources and economic actors throughout the Union, as to overcome important market or systemic failures and societal challenges which could not otherwise be addressed. IPCEI are large-scale European consortia in key strategic value chains featuring tightly connected company projects. IPCEI features projects with a dedicated focus on Research and Development as well as First Industrial Deployment (FID).

Within the context of the IPCEI on Microelectronics, three companies in Austria and the Silicon Alps Cluster were involved in successfully applying for IPCEI 1: NXP Semiconductors Austria, Infineon Austria and AT&S. Austria is significantly involved in their fields of strength in technology: providing secure, energy-efficient chips and power electronics.

We have invited the key figures responsible for the common IPCEI project at their company for a cross-talk, revealing the background and intention of IPCEI, stressing the importance of such projects on Silicon Alps soil. Welcome to our Techtalk Michael Jerne (NXP), Josef Moser (Infineon) and Hannes Voraberger (AT&S).

In talk with:

Michael Jerne, Director External Relations, NXP

According to the NXP mission “Secure Connections for a Smarter World”, NXP Semiconductors Austria focuses on hardware-based solutions for secure and reliable implementations of energy-efficient chip platforms in the area of ​​smart access. The project supports the further expansion of the R&D competence center in Gratkorn near Graz, and enables a stronger emphasis on the topic of security in the European IPCEI consortium.

Hannes Voraberger, Director R&D, AT&S AG

AT&S has the clear role of the provider of connection solutions for electronic systems – we understand printed circuit boards, substrates and packages as the mechanical, electrical, thermal and functional connection between the individual electronic components of a system. In this role, AT&S is one of the few remaining companies in Europe that still develops and produces here – probably the only one in the area of ​​substrates and packages. Thus, we play a key role in all electronic systems that should be manufactured with a purely European value chain. 

Josef Moser, Director Innovation and Funding, Infineon

Infineon combines in Austria in-depth R&D expertise, including new semiconductor materials, with unique thin wafer manufacturing technologies for leading-edge power electronics. These semiconductor solutions improve energy efficiency in many applications worldwide: in data centers, renewable energies, or e-mobility. With these “Tech for Green” technologies we can make a significant contribution to the energy transition and thus to achieving the climate targets.

Why is the participation in the project an important confirmation for your company and the Austrian EBS industry in general?

Jerne: Microelectronics and electronic based systems (EBS) are a key technology for many important applications and thus support the ambitions of the European Commission in the field of the green- and digital transformation. At implementation, IPCEIs (Important Projects of Common European Interest) play an outstanding role due to their size and their impact at the European level. For Austria, as a country with a strong EBS eco-system (and the three companies involved), participation in this initiative in terms of networking and competitiveness was a “must”.

Voraberger: The developments in microelectronics have made it possible for us to continue working and staying connected in our globalized world over the past few months, despite major personal restrictions. In the years to come, microelectronics will continue to provide fundamental solutions for two major issues of our time, digitization and reduction of CO2 consumption. Participation in this project shows that Austrian companies make a significant contribution here. Especially for AT&S, it offers the opportunity to show what significant contribution we can make to solving the great challenges facing mankind.

Moser: Infineon Austria welcomes the Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) Microelectronics by the Austrian federal government. Due to the rapidly advancing digitization and electrification in all areas of life, the importance of microelectronics is increasing comprehensively. It is therefore of the utmost importance for Europe’s technological sovereignty to strengthen and expand the know-how activities of European companies in research, development, and the first industrial application of this key technology.

What can Austrian companies offer that colleagues from other EU countries do not have?

Jerne: Austria, with the three participating companies NXP, Infineon and AT&S, is significantly involved in two fields of technology: energy-efficient chips and power electronics. In these areas, the Austrian contributions complement the existing range of skills and technologies, support and expand the planned dissemination measures and thus increase the effectiveness of the IPCEI project on a European level.  NXP is providing leading edge security know-how, an essential competence to design and implement trustworthy solutions and resilient infrastructures.

Voraberger: In Austria, especially in the south, a focus has been established in microelectronics over the past few years, which has learned to work together successfully on the optimization of electronically based systems. This leads to more powerful systems with reduced energy consumption. This local focus, coupled with research institutions, universities and supply chains, enables very efficient development and work. I can’t say that other countries don’t have it, but here it acts as a catalyst for new solutions.

Moser: Infineon combines in Austria in-depth R&D expertise, including new semiconductor materials, with unique thin wafer manufacturing technologies for power electronics. The IPCEI program focuses on strengthening Europe overall in the key technology of microelectronics. Europe has traditionally been strong in the development of new technologies, but these are often produced and brought to market outside of Europe. IPCEI now supports “First Industrial Deployment” in Europe. In this way, key industries such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or the automotive industry will implement innovative key components more quickly. IPCEI Microelectronics will expand manufacturing capacities in European semiconductor production, create new jobs and address new markets. This will enable European companies to further expand their strengths, but also to develop new competencies.

What are the next steps, what is planned to be implemented together?

Jerne: The project is set up very transparently from a state aid point of view, and the European Commission publishes an overview of the project for all interested parties. The Austrian actors will coordinate well, especially in the area of ​​dissemination, and use synergies at events, conferences and interactions with networks and platforms outside of the IPCEI consortium. It is also a unique opportunity for the Silicon Alps Cluster by playing a significant role as a dissemination hub. Content-wise, the projects are already in full swing, i.e. successful completion of the project from a technical perspective has high priority.

Voraberger: The core focus of our contribution in the field of IPCEI microelectronics is on efficient electronic systems and their stable and efficient supply of electricity. Here, the spectrum ranges from computer processors to applications in the new 5G communication standard. These solutions are developed in this project and are industrialized in a first industrial deployment. This first global industrialization aspect displays the difference to many other funding programs. The so-called “Valley of Death” – the period of time between the completed development of a new technology and its successful launch on the market – is bridged. I consider this to be an essential industrial policy measure by the EU, which makes it possible to avoid falling behind other regions of the world.

Moser: At Infineon Austria, we implemented a project team for the IPCEI focal points in the relevant work areas – power semiconductors, thin wafer technologies as well as new semiconductor materials. In addition, we organize product-specific activities, cooperation, events, and educational initiatives with schools and universities in other EU countries. With a special focus on EU educational and research institutions, technical training, networking, and knowledge transfer along the entire value chain we will reinforce long-term cooperation with companies and academia.

Thank you very much for techtalking to us and the Silicon Alps network and we are curious o what is coming about in the future!

Further information on IPCEI on Semiconductors:

About the IPCEI