State aid: Commission approves plan by France, Germany, Italy and the UK to give ¤1.75 billion public support to joint research and innovation project in microelectronics
The European Commission has found that an integrated project jointly notified by France, Germany, Italy and the UK for research and innovation in microelectronics, a key enabling technology, is in line with EU State aid rules and contributes to a common European interest.
The four Member States will provide in the coming years up to ¤1.75 billion in funding for this project that aims to unlock an additional ¤6 billion in private investment. The project should be completed by 2024 (with differing timelines for each sub-project).
"Microelectronics can be found in almost all electronic devices we use every day - be it your phone, computer, washing machine, or your car. Innovation in microelectronics can help the whole of Europe leap ahead in innovation. That’s why it makes sense for European governments to come together to support such important projects of common European interest, if the market alone would not take the risk. And it is why we have put special State aid rules in place to smooth the way. They enable risky and groundbreaking 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. So that innovation supported by taxpayer money truly serves European citizens."
"Every connected device, every modern machine, all our digital services depend on microelectronic components that become smaller and faster with time. If we don’t want to depend on others for such essential technology, for example for security or performance reasons, we have to be able to design and produce them ourselves. Today’s decision is a result of enhanced cooperation and shared European vision."
On 30 November, France, Germany, Italy and the UK jointly notified to the Commission an Important Project of Common European Interest ("IPCEI") to support research and innovation in microelectronics. Microelectronics are small electronic components usually made of semiconductor materials such as silicon. The basic microelectronic components, commonly known as chips and sensors, can be found in almost all electronic devices.
The integrated research and innovation project will involve 29 direct participants, headquartered both in and outside the EU. They are mostly industrial actors but also two research organisations, carrying out 40 closely interlinked sub-projects.
These direct participants will work in collaboration with a large number of partners, such as other research organisations or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), also beyond the four Member States.
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. These include consumer devices, for example home appliances and automated vehicles, and commercial and industrial devices, for example the management systems for batteries used for electric mobility and energy storage.
In particular, the project is expected to stimulate additional downstream research and innovations in particular in relation to the broad area of the Internet of Things and to connected or driverless cars.
All five technology fields are complementary and interlinked - chips are not typically sold by themselves but are often supplied as part of an integrated system. Such systems require 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.