To increase Europe's microelectronics competitiveness, the Belgian nanoelectronics
research center IMEC asks
Europe and its governing public authorities to stimulate true cross-border collaborations,
not only by setting up networks but also by creating financial means. Only international
collaboration will enable Europe to continue to play a competitive role in nanoelectronics
and related fields.
The last decade, the research challenges and the associated costs for semiconductor
technology have soared. As a result, true joint collaboration with sharing of
costs, risks and talents has become indispensable. To remain competitive in
a market facing increasing research and economical challenges, companies must
think and act on a global scale. From its start, IMEC, located in the small
country Belgium, has stimulated such worldwide collaborations, which is witnessed
by about 400 residents of more than 55 different countries currently collaborating
in IMEC’s research programs. Today IMEC is regarded as one of the leading
research centers worldwide in this field and a true example of ‘open innovation’.
IMEC is involved in numerous EC co-funded research projects that help improving
the European competitiveness. In this regard, especially projects in the 7th
framework programs (FP7) have been very successful and IMEC continues to be
strongly involved, although it hopes the budget for the framework program will
be further increased in the future.
IMEC also welcomes the goal of Eureka programs such as CATRENE (cluster for
application and technology research in Europe on nanoelectronics). Eureka’s
goal is to stimulate cross-border collaboration to improve the economic prosperity
of Europe and to reinforce the ability of the European industry to be at the
forefront of global competition. “This matches our vision of helping to
guarantee a competitive position in a global market;” said Gilbert Declerck,
President and CEO of IMEC. “Therefore, we expect a lot from Eureka and
programs like CATRENE, ITEA2 and Celtic. However, at this moment, Eureka is
only funded locally, with funds which are mainly meant to support local players
within a country or a region, not to stimulate cross-border collaboration between
e.g. research organizations in one country and companies in another country.
But as the market and the competition has become global, research centers must
work together with companies worldwide and borders should not create limitations.
Therefore, we call Eureka to set up the means to stimulate true cross-border
collaboration with appropriate cross border funding schemes.”
With the creation of JTIs (joint technology initiatives) like Artemis and Eniac,
Europe had the opportunity to enable real cross-border collaborations. However,
the rules and the means – 16.7% from the European Commission for all participants
involved in a collaborative project, topped up by local funding for partners
of Member States participating in the yearly ENIAC and ARTEMIS calls - are not
sufficient to increase the level of European cross-border collaboration. Moreover,
it puts companies and institutes located in smaller countries and targeting
major activities in a European wide context in a disfavored position compared
to entities located in larger countries. IMEC regrets this, and would like to
go on strengthening Europe by collaboration that is not limited by country borders.
“We will have to get our act together in these very competitive times
and implement a true single market for European Research;” concludes Gilbert