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France pushes major new electronics project for Europe

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The French government is promoting a major electronics development programme with over 100 participants that is currently stalled with the European Commission.

The Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) on Microelectronics and Communications Technologies (IPCEI ME/CT) was announced in December 2021 with participation from 20 European member states and is being developed in coordination with the European Commission. This IPCEI, the second after one in 2018, aims to target the whole value chain of semiconductors, supporting not only research, development, and innovation (RDI), but also First Industrial Deployment (FID).

However funding for the IPCEI ME/CT is still subject to approval by the European Commission and both member states and companies are pushing for the Commission to approve the project. This may be part of the EU Chips Act aimed at promoting semiconductor manufacturing in the region, but the financial support for leading edge fabs will severely challenge the €50bn budget.

As an example, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection in Germany has already selected 32 microelectronics businesses to be part of the IPCEI that already has a budget of €10bn.

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The IPCEI ME/CT is organized into four workstreams: SENSE (digital perception), THINK (embedded processing), ACT (power electronics), and COMMUNICATE (components for Communications), which will run until 2026.

The French backing for the 15 companies in the IPCEI programme comes as part of its Electronique 2030 programme to back technology development. This includes STMicroelectronics, which on Monday announced an expansion of its Crolles wafer fab with GlobalFoundries as well as Soitec and research lab CEA-Leti.

The French government is directly supporting ST’s participation in the four workstreams, through its R&D and manufacturing sites, at Crolles, Grenoble, Rennes, Rousset, and Tours. This will include R&D in high performance for low power MCUs and technologies, including a new embedded Phase Change Memory FD-SOI technology, AI at the edge using innovative embedded memory CMOS technologies architectures, innovative power electronics using GaN on Silicon, smart optical sensors using advanced 3D integration, and embedding AI, Radio frequency technologies and devices for 5G and 6G, among others.

This follows the 2018 IPCEI on semiconductor production that saw investment in Infineon’s Villach fab in Austria.

www.st.com; ec.europa.eu

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