- 26. March 2021
- Posted by:
- Category: Advanced Manufacturing, Außenwirtschaft, Cooperation, Cyber Security & IoT, DeepTech, Funding, General, Innovation, Internationalisation, Investment, IoT, News, Research, Sub Systems & Integration
The approval is of immense importance for the Austrian microelectronic industry and a showcase for an exceptional step made by the European Commission, as the proposal to join in at the existing IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest) by Infineon, AT&S and NXP was made 2 years after the start and thus required a complex assessment procedure by the EC. Since the approval came within three months largely stresses both the significance of the three companies on the European and global market and also the relevance of microelectronics in setting the sails for future’s technology.
As the original press release of the EC states, in December 2018, the Commission approved, under EU State aid rules, an IPCEI to support research and innovation in the field of microelectronics (the ‘2018 IPCEI Microelectronics’). The project was jointly set-up and notified by France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. The approved public support amounted to €1.75 billion. The 2018 IPCEI Microelectronics, which aims at developing innovative microelectronics technologies and components for automotive, Internet of Things (IoT) and other key applications (such as space, avionics, and security) and their first industrial deployment, originally involved 27 companies and two research organisations.
In December 2020, Austria notified the Commission of its plans to join the 2018 IPCEI Microelectronics, by providing €146.5 million of public support to three companies (Infineon Austria, AT&S Austria and NXP Semiconductors Austria) that will carry out additional research and innovation falling within the scope and contributing to the objectives of the existing IPCEI. The companies will focus in particular on the areas of security, energy efficiency, and integration of packaging technologies for microelectronics.
The joining of an already established and ongoing IPCEI by an additional Member State and projects is an exceptional circumstance. It requires a complex assessment by the Commission, to verify that the new individual projects are properly integrated into the existing roadmap and structure of the IPCEI, for example by means of establishing sufficient and valuable collaborations with the initial participants, and are genuinely adding significant value to the IPCEI in order to reach its objectives.
3 companies, 3 objectives
AT&S will focus on innovating the next generation of enhanced electronic interconnect technologies in power electronics, radiofrequency and computing. The focus is already put on the next generation of technology. The aim of the project is to bring together and combine the main competencies of AT&S: high-end printed circuit boards, substrate technology and component integration.
Infineon Austria focuses on the research and development of innovative manufacturing technologies for power electronics and their first industrial application in Austria. The target applications of these new types of energy-saving chips address innovations in industry and mobility and, as “Tech for Green” in data centres, in renewable electricity generation and electric cars, are an active contribution to combating climate change.
NXP Semiconductors Austria focuses on hardware-based solutions for secure and reliable implementations of energy-efficient chip platforms in the field 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.
The Commission’s Assessment
The projects that Infineon Austria, AT&S Austria and NXP Semiconductors Austria will carry out aim at delivering additional technological innovations in energy efficient power semiconductors, on advanced security and interconnections, as well as on organic packaging technology aspects.
In this respect, the Commission found that the projects will add significant value to the 2018 IPCEI Microelectronics and will contribute to and enhance the integration of existing IPCEI. In particular:
- They will significantly contribute to the achievement of common objective pursued by the existing IPCEI in supporting a strategic value chain, in particular through the development innovative microelectronics, technologies and components for automotive, IoT and other key applications (such as space, avionics, and security), by aiming at technology solutions that were not (sufficiently) addressed.
- They will add significant value to the existing IPCEI by bringing important contributions to its objectives, integration, collaborations, scope, and research and development content.
- They are highly ambitious, aiming at developing technologies and processes that go beyond current technology.
- The companies will establish significant and valuable additional collaborative research with the existing direct partners and support the development and objectives of the relevant technology fields.
- The projects involve significant technological and financial risks, and public support is therefore necessary to provide incentives to companies to carry out the investment.
- The aid to each of the three companies is limited to what is necessary, proportionate and does not unduly distort competition.
- Additional important positive spill-over effects will be generated throughout Europe.
On this basis, the Commission concluded that the Austrian plans to join the 2018 IPCEI Microelectronics are in line with EU State aid rules.
The IPCEI Communication is currently being reviewed to ensure it fully contributes to the Commission’s green and digital objectives.
Silicon Alps will put a focus on this topic and provide more details soon!