The European Commission announced on December 18 that it had approved a €1.75 billion plan first tabled by France, Germany, Italy, and the UK to contribute to the financing of a joint research and innovation project in the microelectronics sector, a project that will include roughly 29 companies and research organisations, according to the EU’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

“Microelectronics can be found in almost all electronic devices we use every day,” said Vestager, who added that improving innovation in the sector makes sense for Europe’s governments as they jointly support projects that are important for the bloc.

Streamlined state aid rules will enable both risky and groundbreaking forms of research and innovation to see the light of day, whilst ensuring that its benefits are shared widely and do not distort the level playing field in Europe but continues to support innovative research paid for by taxpayer money,” Vestager added.

On November 30,  France, Germany, Italy and the UK jointly notified to the European Commission about the Important Project of Common European Interest to support research and innovation in microelectronics.

The project’s overall objective is to enable research and develop innovative technologies and components (e.g. chips, integrated circuits, and sensors) that can be integrated in a large set of downstream applications, including home appliances, automated vehicles, and commercial and industrial devices, for example the management systems for batteries used for electric mobility and energy storage.

IPCEI companies and sectors / European Commission
IPCEI companies and sectors / European Commission

The project participants and their partners will focus their work on five different technology areas including,  energy-efficient chips to reduce the overall energy consumption of electronic devices including those installed in cars; power semiconductors that will increase the reliability of final semiconductor devices; smart sensors to improve car safety through more reliable and timely reaction to allow a car to change lanes or avoid an obstacle; advanced optical equipment for more effective technologies used for future high-end chips; and compound materials that will allow for more hi-tech materials used during the construction of advanced chips.

All five technology fields are complementary and interlinked, requiring as systems a combination of processes and technologies covered by the different fields of the project. For this reason, the project participants will be involved in over 100 collaborations across the different areas in the 40 closely interlinked sub-projects.