Future of IMEC’s Spanish R&D fab hinges on government support

Future of IMEC’s Spanish R&D fab hinges on government support

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By Peter Clarke

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The IMEC research institute (Leuven, Belgium) has agreed to help establish a 300mm R&D facility in Malaga in the Spanish region of Andalusia but said the project is still subject to negotiations on the support it will receive.

Despite previous disclosures that the IMEC Fab 5 project could create 450 direct jobs in Malaga (see IMEC to site R&D fab in Malaga, Spain, say reports) IMEC said details of the operation of the facility, such as the number of jobs to be created, will be determined during negotiations that are just starting.

News of the fab broke last month when Spanish Minister of Digital Transformation and Public Service, José Luis Escrivá told reporters that Malaga had been selected as the location for IMEC Fab 5. The three parties – the Spanish government, the regional government of Andalusia and IMEC – have now signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to that effect and released photographs of the signing event.

Along with the announcement of the MoU IMEC said that negotiations are starting on the public-private cooperation model. The Spanish and regional authorities have agreed “to support the construction of the new facility including the advanced equipment.” There is also provision for long-term financial support for the pilot line’s operations, IMEC said.

“IMEC intends to manage the operations, provide the required knowledge and technology, and guarantee access to its global academic and industrial partner network,” the organization added.

This indicates Spanish taxpayers may be asked to provide the majority, if not all, of the money for IMEC Fab 5 with IMEC providing the research plan, the know-how and the management.

Timetable and cost

Neither a timetable nor the financial cost have been given for the construction and equipping of the fab and nor for its annual operational budget.

IMEC said the Malaga R&D fab will complement IMEC’s cleanroom in Leuven. While the Leuven facility is focused on CMOS and the path to sub-nanometer manufacturing and beyond, the Andalusian fab will be used for process developments and the introduction of materials that are difficult to combine with standard CMOS processes. The facility will also meet the need for R&D prototyping in such domains such as health care, life sciences, photonics, precision sensing and augmented and virtual reality.

The regional government, the Junta de Andalucia, has been quoted saying that IMEC Fab 5 is expected to create 450 direct jobs in Malaga in a new building at the Malaga Techpark. The property includes about 32,000 square meters of buildable space on a plot of 46,000 square meters.

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