2014 SEMICON Taiwan - Silicon Europe Taiwan Day
2014 國際半導體展 - 歐洲矽谷聯盟台灣日

Taipei, 4 September -

The European Economic and Trade Office (EETO), together with the European Business Regulatory Cooperation (EBRC) hosted a field of distinguished micro- and nanoelectronics experts from the European Commission and Members States at its Silicon Europe Taiwan Day Forum. The forum, attended by around 110 representatives of European and Taiwanese industry and research entities, showcased insights on European excellence in the fields of micro- and nanoelectronics, presented European competitive clusters’ know-how, experience and innovations, such as “Silicon Europe”, as well as offered opportunities for direct B2B matchmaking. The forum was part of the EU’s efforts to enhance EU-Taiwan cooperation aimed at paving the way for sustainable engagement and cooperation between Europe and Taiwan. The experts shared presentations on the value of clusters in fostering innovation as well as research and innovation related to electronic components and systems in Europe and the strengths of European microelectronics.

The partners of the European clusters alliance “Silicon Europe”, notably clusters from Minalogic (France), DSP Valley (Belgium), High Tech NL (Netherlands), Silicon Saxony (Germany), and Fondazione Distretto Green and High Tech of Monza Brianza (Italy), shared their expertise in disruptive innovation and technological development, cooperation within individual clusters and with European clusters, and called for international cooperation with Taiwan. The experts delivered a clear message that cooperation between industry, academia and administrations has been a key enabler in enhancing successful IT and micro- and nanoelectronics clusters in Europe. Silicon Europe and its partners cover the whole semiconductor value chain and shape a cutting-edge network of micro- and nanoeletronics actors in the heart of Europe. The European ecosystem for innovation is expected to be a good example for the development of Taiwanese high-tech clusters and future EU-Taiwan cooperation. Between the forum sessions, a coffee break and networking time was held to allow members of the audience to interact with speakers.


First session
This session covered opening remarks, an introduction to research and innovation opportunities in Europe and Silicon Europe.

Opening remarks

Viktoria Lövenberg, Deputy Head of Office of the EETO, and Freddie Hoeglund, CEO of the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) delivered opening remarks at the forum by welcoming greater information exchanges and future cooperation between Europe and Taiwan. Ms Lövenberg declared that the EBRC outreach event aims to develop the “cluster-to-cluster” concept between the EU and Taiwan. This will include a permanent representation of European Clusters in Taiwan (and vice-versa), cooperation between SMEs, research centres, academia and multinational companies, better access to local partners and promotion of clusters. Mr Hoeglund indicated that, as the largest organization representing European business in Taiwan, the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan counts among its members global leaders across a wide range of industries, including ICT. He added that the ECCT represents business interests, and recognizes the need to nurture and develop partnerships between corporations, government, research and academic institutions and that the ECCT will continue to promote business development for the benefit of both Europe and Taiwan.

Topic: Research and innovation in electronic components and systems – a European Perspective
Speaker: Willy Van Puymbroeck, Head of Unit, Components, Directorate General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology (DG-Connect), European Commission

Van Puymbroeck detailed the EU’s roadmaps for component and systems technologies in ICT and the Horizon 2020 programme. He indicated that Europe is a great place for cooperation and investment, which creates a “win-win” situation for EU-Taiwan cooperation.

Van Puymbroeck noted that two of the proposed priorities of incoming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker would be supportive of boosting jobs, growth and investment and a connected single digital market. This would have to build on current programmes and initiatives such as the Digital Agenda for Europe and Horizon 2020.

There would remain an emphasis on research and development. The EU had set a challenging target of spending 3% of GDP on R&D. It is currently at about 2%, which implies there is still a need for more R&D spending. There is also a need for more cooperation to develop skills and create jobs.
Electronic components and systems are enabling and pervasive elements that drive the economy. Europe currently has about a 10% share of the global market. It is strong in materials and equipment but more action needed in semiconductor manufacturing.

Europe has an industrial electronics strategy and a roadmap and implementation plan to double economic value of semiconductor component production in Europe by 2020-2025. Three mechanisms are proposed in Horizon 2020. To stimulate demand, trailblazer projects, zones of testing and centres of competence will be supported. In terms of supply, pilot projects/lines will be set up to bridge the gap to volume production. There are currently about 14 such projects ongoing.


Furthermore, the EU will work to enhance the framework and infrastructure by ensuring a level playing field and stimulating new businesses and skills, research and innovation and support Public Private Partnership (PPP). In fact recently a 5B€ public-private partnership involving the EU Member States on Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership (ECSEL) was launched in June 2014. Support for clusters will also continue. Europe hosts world-class clusters, an asset to build on. The scope of support covers the full range of component and systems technologies in ICT, from micro-nanoelectronics to miniaturised smart systems.

Support programmes are industry driven, which in turn is developing technology to address real challenges facing society. Projects are selected on the basis of excellence and potential impact.

From 2007-2013 about  €1 billion (partly funded by the EU) was allocated to projects in various fields such as nanoelectronics, health, electric vehicles, smart grids, power electronics, MEMS and sensors run by consortiums of industry including SMEs and academic institutions. Typical projects had funding of about €3-4 million, run for 3 years and have about 10 partners each. A number of these projects have led to technological breakthroughs and industrial success stories in semiconductor design, power efficiency, equipment and materials as well as applications for health and vehicles.

The seven-year Horizon 2020 programme started at the end of last year to support research in three main areas: Excellent science (with a budget of €24.4 billion), Industrial leadership (with a budget of €17 billion budget) and Societal challenges (budget of €29.7 billion). Of this, €7 billion will be devoted to ICT, a new generation of components and systems (engineering of advanced and smart embedded components and systems), next generation computing (advanced computing systems and technologies), Future Internet (infrastructures, technologies and services), Content technologies and information management (ICT for digital content and creativity), Advanced interfaces and robots (robotics and smart spaces), Micro- and nanoelectronics and photonics, nanotechnologies, advanced materials and biotechnology.

Any legal entity in the world can participate in Horizon 2020 projects as part of a consortium. The programme will soon open for proposals including on 'Generic micro-and nanoelectronics'. Proposals that are submitted will be evaluated by independent experts (expected to take a maximum of five months), after which within a maximum period of three months, grant agreements will be signed with the successful ones.

Van Puymbroeck concluded that Europe is a great place for cooperation and investment and, given that that the Internet of Things (IoT) and a smart connected world will be the main drivers of the future, there are great opportunities for everyone.

Topic: Silicon Europe: a European transnational and international cooperation project to support innovative European electronics in a global environment
Speaker: Veronique Pequignat, Internationalization Strategy Leader, Silicon Europe

Silicon Europe is a project which facilitates cooperation between clusters, which are the main European centers of microelectronics. Its goal is to create the first transnational microelectronics cluster in Europe and help boost the innovation of its members.

Europe has committed to support both the demand and supply side (production) of microchips in Europe. It supports the whole value chain, including application markets. It does so by boosting the use of microchips in markets where Europe is a leading player, enhancing infrastructure projects such as connected highways, digital highways, enhanced healthcare and assisted living.

Clusters are essential to achieve competitiveness. While every cluster is different, what they have in common is cooperation between government, industry and academia (research institutions) working together in local areas to help advance innovative projects and accelerate business development. In Europe, and Silicon Europe especially, clusters are also the “voice” of the SMEs, which support them to reach new markets and deliver new products.

Silicon Europe is a bottom up organization. It consists of five main clusters in Europe: Minalogic in France, DSP Valley in Belgium, High Tech NL in The Netherlands, Silicon Saxony in Germany and Me2C in Austria.  Some of the major companies involved in the clusters include ASML, Philips and NXP in High Tech NL; IMEC in DSP Valley; Infineon, Fraunhhoffer and X Fab in Silicon Saxony and Infineon in Me2C.

Silicon Europe’s main strength is in systems (integration of chips and systems to use in applications). 41% of member companies are in this sector and they provide 55% of jobs. 32% of companies are engaged in equipment and provide 15% of jobs. While design tool firms account for 17% of membership, they only provide 4% of jobs, due to the multiplicity of very small design companies. They are very innovative and agile, but prone to being bought out. 

Silicon Europe covers the whole range of semiconductor market applications. 72% of Silicon Europe’s 653 members are SMEs, 14% large firms and 14% are research centres. Most of these SME’s tend to be very small with few employees - most people are employed by large organisations.

The main priorities of Silicon Europe’s members are to:
  • Secure technology & knowledge availability and development.
  • Implement smart specialization strategies: This is important to make the best use of resources. If region A is better than region B in one aspect, it makes sense for region B to focus on another area. This is particularly practical given the huge investments required in the semiconductor industry.
  • Promote European funding for SMEs: Help companies to get access to funding.
  • Increase international cooperation and business opportunities: All SMEs need to compete in the global market.
  • Promote micro- and nanotechnology: Very often politicians and the general public know very little about the industry and so education is important.

Besides the development of a strategy within Europe, Silicon Europe is also reaching out to other clusters, both within the EU and internationally.

The advantage of joining Silicon Europe is especially apparent for SMEs because it gives small companies with niche competencies access to a network of other companies with different skills, knowledge, technology and resources which they could not develop on their own. Meanwhile the ability to get access to public funding is a great benefit of the cluster. Generally when there is strong public support, there is also a specific organization responsible, which makes it easier for outsiders to contact the cluster. The cluster members from Silicon Europe are also well positioned in terms of collaboration between universities and industry, compared to other clusters. 

Silicon Europe started collaborating within its existing network, moved on to expand to other micro and nanoelectronics clusters in Europe and then enlarging to the application sector. The most advanced collaboration so far has happened in the health care sector.

In conclusion, Silicon Europe is the gateway to collaboration with Europe. It represents a professional transnational cluster structure and a critical mass – 800 science and industry partners, and reaches out to other microelectronics clusters in Europe. It can provide access to potential business partners, including more than 500 innovative SMEs. Silicon Europe represents the whole semiconductor value chain, and addresses all key technologies for our data driven society - Sensors and Mems, IoT, Imaging, Advanced Manufacturing, Smart fabs and software know-how. Silicon Europe reaches out to application markets where Europe has key competitive advantages and is open to collaboration to address key issues facing modern societies: aging populations, energy efficiency, the environment, mobility, smart cities etc. Finally, Silicon Europe has a voice in Europe helping to shape a strategy for the European microelectronics.

Topic: Silicon Europe: Innovation accelerator
Speaker: Fabien Boulanger, Innovation Expert & Director of Micro and Nanoelectronics, Minalogic Cluster, Silicon Europe

The speaker explained how Silicon Europe promotes innovation. He began with a summary of the five main clusters that are part of Silicon Europe:
  • Silicon Saxony (Germany, Dresden) has a strong industrial base for equipment and materials. It has 2,100 enterprises, employing 51,000 employees. It has an excellent research landscape (100,000 students and 20 leading research institutes).
  • Minalogic (France, Grenoble) is home to one third of French jobs in the microelectronics’ sector.  Grenoble has a leading position in imaging.
  • High Tech NL (The Netherlands, Eindhoven) covers the full value chain. It is strong in semiconductor production process technology, photonics, RF, MEMS, Power, Microfluidics and bio/Sensors.
  • DSP Valley (Belgium, Leuven) supports a wide value chain from basic R&D in wafer fabs to system integration. It has a large innovation ecosystem built around IMEC and KULeuven and has extensive cooperation with neighboring regions.
  • ME2C (Austria, Villach) concentrates on mixed signal system design with a special focus on power electronics and security. It has cutting-edge technologies and facilities for semiconductor and electronic manufacturing and comprehensive smart system and smart power integration know-how.

What these clusters demonstrate is that combing industry and research institutes is a key strength and necessary for future development. Most projects are small with budgets of €3-4 million and typically last for three years but some are much larger. Boulanger cited some examples of successful projects including the following:

  • Bridge 450 was a Europe-wide project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to introduce the “450mm tool box”, and support everyone in the semiconductor value chain in its transition to 450 mm wafers in Europe. The project addressed issues by combining the forces of a large number of partners in automation, robotics, metrology, cleaning processing facilities, R&D and institutes and so on. Gathering many companies from various sectors (large and small) to work together has proved to be an effective way to address all issues.
  • The IRT nanotech initiative in Grenoble (which started in 2012 and will continue until 2019) has brought together 17 different partners and nine institutions with a global budget of €400 million (including €160 million in public investment) to develop enabling technologies to create the integrated circuits of the future with a focus on the 3D integration of chips and integrating photonics on silicon to contribute to the improvement of CMOS circuits.

The advantage of this type of cluster cooperation project is that various partners can work on technology bottlenecks together and share the results. This benefits all partners by saving time and resources.

One example of a small local project was Flumin3, which developed a state-of-the-art smart injection with a MEMS micro-pump. In this case, a small company cooperated with a large company to develop this solution.

In another example of a small project, a start-up company called Movea developed a smart tennis racket with smart sensors tucked into the handle to measure power, impact location, the number of strokes, spin, and types of strokes. In this case, different partners worked on different aspects of technology and connectivity to produce the complete product.

Second session: Cluster experiences

The afternoon session gave an introduction to specific clusters from the perspectives of partners within the various clusters.

DSP Valley, Belgium
Topic: Flanders, region of excellence in nanoelectronics – stimulating global innovation and collaboration
Speaker: Lode Lauwers, Vice President, Core CMOS Business & Strategic Accounts, IMEC

There will be a big push and design effort in the next few years to optimize the use of power and decrease the use of power consumption in wireless devices. There will also be a lot of challenges to deal with connectivity, data management and security among others.

Given the enormous challenges, no company, not even a large company, can succeed in a silo (alone). Collaboration helps companies to reach solutions faster and save money. Lots of SMEs focus on very specific niche products or areas. They cannot afford to have all disciplines under one roof. This is where clusters are useful because they bring together partners from a range of disciplines.

While IMEC focuses on upstream R&D, through the DSP Valley cluster, it has access to multiple companies in other sectors. IMEC works with leading suppliers like ASML and intensively collaborates with suppliers to get the most up to date technology. The DSP valley acts as a matchmaker for open innovation. The focus had been on smart electronic systems and this has now expanded to health, IoT and the smart home. 

The billions of interconnected devices that will make up the internet of things will need underlying technologies to deal with power and other issues. All aspects need to be worked on at the same time and this requires multiple partners with expertise in various areas. For example, more than 10 companies collaborated to design and build a cochlear hearing aid because of the complexity of the various technologies and expertise needed.

Ultra low power development will also take enormous collaboration and investment. Clusters enable using and combining various technologies from partners for new projects. Partners in clusters have also learned to be creative with licencing and business models to enable all partners to benefit proportionately.

Lauwers concluded that collaboration is very important if you want to accelerate time to the market, essential given the very short product cycles in the modern economy.

High Tech NL, The Netherlands
Topic: Connected innovation in The Netherlands
Speaker: Ben van der Zon, Programme Manager, High Tech NL

In the past century we had large monolithic companies that handled everything from product development to technology/process development, production, marketing sales and after sales. There was also full accountability within one management. However, these monolithic enterprises eventually vanished and businesses started to rely on supply chains where any part of the process can be outsourced. This has led to mutual dependencies in a range of companies with multiple suppliers and customers. Clusters formed more or less spontaneously to increase efficiencies. Now there is an extremely open environment.

Companies that join clusters are often similar and do similar things. While they are competitors they also help one another. Clusters also allow new companies to get help from established ones.

High Tech NL is an association of 170 partners from Dutch industry and knowledge institutes, including four renowned technical universities and semiconductor equipment players. It covers the entire high tech value chain, including the semiconductor industry which, in 2013, generated export value of €20 billion, invested €1.5 billion in R&D, provided 200,000 jobs.

The basic approach in clusters is to combine competencies in a productive way to create new products.

Combining core technology from one company with engineering capabilities from another partner and market know-how from a third partner leads to a new way of creating high-tech business or ‘connected innovation’.

High Tech NL’s members are mostly SMEs but they have the support of large companies. They also engage in practical collaboration. For example, small chip design houses share licences and contracts to make use of expensive equipment.

High Tech NL is expanding connections in and outside Europe and welcomes collaboration with Taiwan.

Minalogic, France
Topic: Minalogic: Fostering innovations at the crossroads of hardware and software, the internet of things example
Speaker: Isabelle Guillaume, General Manager, Minalogic Cluster

Minalogic is a global technology cluster, focused on micro and nanoelectronics and software, based in Grenoble, France. Grenoble is second largest hub for ICT research in France after Paris. It has two main roles:
  • To foster innovation through collaborative market-driven R&D projects between SME’s, large groups and research labs and
  • Provide support to accelerate the growth of innovative SMEs and start-ups in practical ways, such as securing orders.

What makes Minalogic special is that it has a strong network of software players as well as hardware. Given that it knows its members so well, Minalogic is able to function as a perfect matchmaker.

Minalogic has 241 members (150 of which are SMEs). It has launched 280 projects, which have invested €2 billion in R&D, of which of €750 million was public funding. It has a very powerful software research capacity thanks to nine national and four international research centres, which offer 29 engineering programmes and produce 3,000 graduates per year. Minalogic’s members provide 40,000 jobs in ICT, of which 15,000 are in the software field.

For genuine innovation, you need to connect players in the whole supply from core technology to software and innovations. If you don’t have the right ecosystem you will struggle to add value. You need multiple players to cooperate to realize the power of the internet of things. For example, for smart miniaturized connected objects to work, you need the support of telecom operators and application enablers such as security, billing, big data analytics and cloud computing players.

Guillaume cited several of Minalogic’s projects aimed at solving challenges and giving citizens what they want including the following:
  • The Senscity project is a city-wide project over two years with a budget of €6.1 million to develop an open and standard ICT platform for M2M technology suitable for different users. The platform will offer city utilities a wide range of services and help them achieve their sustainable development goals.
  • The “ideviceCloud over three years with a budget of €2.9 million is a distributed cloud-based supervision solution for industrial processes. This is an innovative approach due to the virtualization of device management within the smart grid.

The role of clusters is instrumental. The key to success is to mix heterogeneous teams. This is how you get disruptive ideas and are able to realize them. The value of the cluster is as an “ecosystem shaker”. Clusters are able to make targeted connections because they know their members intimately. 

Guillaume welcomed cooperation with Taiwan and said that Minalogic can help Taiwanese companies to link with their European counterparts.

Silicon Saxony, Germany
Topic: An SME experience with Silicon Saxony – CS Clean Systems
Speaker: Georg Lipperer, CEO, CS Clean Systems

Silicon Saxony has 2,100 member companies, which provide 51,000 jobs and generate revenues of €11 billion. Dresden is the centre of Silicon Saxony. The cluster offers an excellent research landscape given the presence of nine universities and 20 leading research institutes. The cluster is a strong industrial base for equipment makers and materials, 3D systems integration and smart systems. Membership covers the whole value chain from services (consulting and finance) to research and development, manufacturing and infrastructure.

Companies within the cluster maintain good relations and do business with small and large companies. Even small companies need a global presence and this is how clusters help to provide global reach.

Being part of a cluster gives members access to a wide range of partners with particular expertise. It is especially useful for small companies to gain access to expertise as well as increase their international exposure. For example, small companies can save costs at international exhibitions by having joint booths together with other partners in the Silicon Saxony cluster.

Fondazione Distretto Green and High Tech of Monza Brianza, Italy
Topic: ST Microelectronics within the northern Italian industrial cluster
Speaker: Giuseppe Izzo, General Manager, STMicroelectronics Taiwan & Chairman, ECCT

STMicroelectronics is part of the Fondazione Distretto Green and High Tech of Monza Brianza cluster in Italy. Nanoelectronic clusters in Italy are mostly collaborations with universities and polytechnics. ST’s largest nanoelectronics centre is ST Agrate, which focuses on design, technology R&D, manufacturing and marketing and has a work force of 4,199. The next largest is ST Catania, which has a workforce of 3,888. It also has divisions in Castelletto (943 employees), Arzona (96 employees) and Lecce (20 employees).  

ST is the largest European semiconductor company with 45,000 employees globally, of which 9,000 work on R&D. In 2013 the company generated revenues of $8.08 billion. The firm has 12 manufacturing sites and produces a broad product portfolio covering most consumer products, auto, smart power, microcontrollers, MEMS and sensors. The firm has 79 sales offices in 35 countries. The firm maintains an unwavering commitment to R&D, as is evident in its 6,000 patents (including 598 new filings in 2013).

ST was one of the most active companies in the EU’s FP7 ICT projects from 2007-2012. 

Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), such as nanotechnology, micro- and nanoelectronics including semiconductors, advanced materials, biotechnology and photonics will be crucial in the shift to a low carbon, knowledge-based economy. Coordinated R&D investments at the EU level, which will include the support of clusters, will help reverse the decline of high-tech manufacturing in Europe.

Besides support for innovation within Europe, there is also a need to foster an environment of cooperation with other partners, including between European and Taiwanese companies. There is a lot of room for cooperation between small and innovative companies in Europe and Taiwan and creating links and partnerships through clusters is a proven and effective way to do this.