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Brussels, 29 May 2013
Five major projects announced as part of new EU Electronics strategy
The European Commission is today announcing a collection of five major projects, to boost Europe's manufacturing competitiveness by bringing research closer to industrial needs. These projects are the first steps in putting into effect the European Electronics strategy of 23 May.
The 5 so-called "Pilot lines" put research at the heart of electronics manufacturing. They do this by linking up 128 partners, so that European manufacturers work directly with technology companies, chip designers, researchers, and universities at the very earliest stages of product development. The purpose is to develop the kind of innovative microchips which will give European industry and products a global competitive edge.
European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes says: 'We do not have any time to waste. These projects will make a vital contribution to implementing our electronics strategy. And by end 2013 I want to see the industry's plan to achieve a doubling of chip production to around 20% of global production'.
To this end, a large consultation is underway and today Vice-President Kroes is meeting Ministers from regional and national governments, CEOs from major European semiconductor manufacturers, and the world-leading researchers to discuss the implementation of the new Strategy.
The Commission will provide €100 million to support these 5 pilot lines (funding totals over €700m when contributions from Member States and industry are included).
This is also the first time that the European electronics industry will be able to have direct access to this scale of experimental research facility, thanks to the more than 120 partners involved.
The pilot lines being developed are:
How do pilot lines work?
Industries using advanced electronics to differentiate their products (cars, mobile phones, electrical appliances, computers, medical equipment etc.) do not simply buy an already finalised chip. They work together with electronics manufacturers, during the design and manufacture process, to make sure that the end product best suits their needs. Usually this is done with electronics manufactures based throughout the world, in particular in Asia and the US.
The European Commission is supporting pilot lines closer to home to enable European manufacturers to develop innovative chips and production processes that are state of the art and feature unique properties, such as being more energy efficient or offering more functionality. Through pilot lines, novel technologies can be developed faster, made available to users for testing and validation at a much earlier stage in the product development stage so that the risks in rolling out these processes at larger scale is significantly reduced. These new chips and procedures will better suit manufacturers' needs, giving their products a competitive edge. Pilot lines will also work closely with suppliers and the innovation chain (for example universities, Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs), technology providers, designers).
To give some examples, a manufacturing of light fittings will get a supply of advanced high performance LED devices to adapt the light intensity and colour to the time of the day and the mood of the user; a company developing an electric vehicle will collaborate with the pilot lines building the next power management devices to extend the autonomy of the vehicle; a portable phone manufacturer will experiment with integrated devices consuming 40% less power and running at higher speed to integrate further features for communication and entertainment etc.
Having these pilot lines in the EU gives Europe's electronics and manufacturing sectors an edge globally. By being relatively close to each other's researchers and manufacturers, they have short loops of exchange which is essential for better results.
Until recently, this could not have happened, because neither the EU on its own, nor any of the EU countries on its own could have funded it. This was made possible thanks to the joint contribution of the EU, member states and industry, through the funding and support of ENIAC, a public-private partnership aimed at enhancing further integration and miniaturisation of devices and increasing their functionalities.
How were these pilot lines selected?
These pilot lines were selected on the basis of the following criteria: