The European Commission today launched a €5 billion public-private partnership - ECSEL - to boost Europe’s electronics design and manufacturing capabilities. This initiative is the core of the Electronics Strategy for Europe to mobilise €100 billion in private investments and create 250,000 jobs in Europe by 2020. At the same time, the Commission received the final recommendations of the Electronics Leaders Group, CEOs from the largest electronics companies in Europe, for the concrete and immediate implementation of the strategy.
Vice-President of the European Commission said: "We need to join up our efforts if we are to win back and defend a leading position for Europe. I am happy that this partnership is now active - it shows that the EU and Member States can work together quickly when there is a clear case for action. The regulation to set it up was approved in less than a year!"
Time to ECSEL
The EU will invest some €1.18 billion in the Electronic Components & Systems for European Leadership (ECSEL) Joint Technology Initiative (JTI). ECSEL will help industry launch new pilot projects and build on the €1.79 billion already invested in existing pilot lines and demonstrators. These projects bring together European manufacturers, technology companies, chip designers, software developers, researchers and universities at the early stages of product and service development, bringing research closer to market.
EU funding will be provided through the research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 . 26 EU Member States and Associated States have lined up to put a similar amount of €1.17 billion into ECSEL. Industrial partners will contribute more than €2.34 billion.
The first call for proposals will be worth €270 million of public support. In addition to pilot projects, it will cover technology developments in electronic chips, in cyber-physical and in smart systems and their integration into application areas for resource efficient transport, improved citizen privacy, sustainable energy generation and e.g. affordable health. Special focus is on trust, security and user friendliness of technology.
On the demand side, the group proposed three measures:
"trailblazer" projects that will demonstrate leadership in areas where European industry has recognised strength such as the automotive and energy sectors, the life-sciences and health;
A limited set of "world class reference zones" of large-scale, real-life testing of emerging technologies throughout Europe. This network will also help SMEs from traditional to high tech sectors access technologies and develop their potential in embedding electronics;
A multi-skills network of competence centres to raise Europe's innovation capacity in all sectors. It is proposed that Horizon 2020 could bring about €3 billion to those. The European structural funds should double this effort which total will at least be matched by the industry to reach around €10 billion.
On the supply side, the group sees a clear opportunity for further private investments in chip production in Europe as demonstrated by the large industrial investments in pilot lines in 2012-13. The move from pilot lines into mass production of innovative components and systems will be pursued in the next seven years. The ELG estimates that € 20 Billion investment will be needed for this. This would correspond to adding every two years a capacity of 70,000 new wafers (the slices of semiconductor material on which the chips are manufactured) per month from 2016/17 onwards, an average of 10% increased capacity per year.
The ELG sees that with efforts planned at EU level, in the Member States and with the support available to key enabling technologies in the European Investment Bank, Europe provides now a very competitive framework for private investment in production. The ELG recommends exploring the use of the new state-aid instrument on important projects of common European interest. This capacity build-up will respond to and anticipate demand in the identified areas of “smart connected objects”, in European areas of strengths, as well as in mobile convergence (between computing, mobile communications and wearable electronics).
During the 1990s, the European share of semiconductor production increased to more than 15% of world production. However, in the last decade, it has fallen back to below 10% (Japan 22%; South Korea 18%; Taiwan 17%; the US 13%).
On 23 May 2013, the Commission announced the Electronics Strategy for Europe (IP/13/455) to bring the EU back to the driver's seat. The strategy aims, by 2020, to facilitate industry investment of €100 billion; double the value of EU micro-chip production to reach 20% of worldwide production; and create 250 000 jobs in Europe. The Electronics Leaders Group (ELG) – which brings together the leaders of Europe's eight largest semiconductor and design companies, equipment and materials suppliers and of the three largest research technology organisations – was set up to devise ways to achieve these objectives, in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders.