European Commission launches public-private partnership for electronics sector

Out-Law News | 07 Jul 2014 | 5:25 pm | 1 min. read

The European Commission has launched a €5 billion ($6.8bn) public-private partnership to boost Europe’s electronics design and manufacturing capabilities.

The Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership (ECSEL) ‘joint technology initiative’ is designed to “mobilise” €100 billion ($136bn) in private investments, create 250,000 jobs in Europe by 2020 and “win back and defend” Europe’s leading position in the sector, EC vice-president Neelie Kroes said.

In a related development, the Commission said it had received final recommendations from a group of 11 chief executive officers from Europe’s electronics industry, the ‘Electronic Leaders’ Group’ (ELG), which included calls to support ‘trailblazer’ projects that “demonstrate leadership in areas where European industry has recognised strength”, such as the automotive and energy sectors.

ELG, formed in 2013 at Kroes’ request, said in a report earlier this year that Europe “can capture up to 60% of new electronics markets, and double the economic value of semi-conductor component production in Europe within the next 10 years”.

According to ELG, “the objective is to reverse the decline of Europe's share of the supply of micro and nanoelectronics and ensure in a decade from now a level of production in the EU that is more in line with the size of its economy”.

ECSEL is scheduled to run for 10 years and replace earlier EU initiatives in support of the nanoelectronics and embedded systems sectors. The initiative was proposed by the Commission in July 2013 and adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union earlier this year.

The Commission said funding for ECSEL to help industry launch new pilot projects will be more than €1bn ($1.4bn) and provided through 'Horizon 2020', the EU’s biggest ever research and innovation programme. Twenty-six EU member states and associated states are expected to put a similar amount into ECSEL, while industrial partners will contribute more than €2bn ($2.7bn), the Commission said.

The first call for proposals under ECSEL will be worth €270m ($367m) of public support. In addition to pilot projects, the initiative will cover technology developments in electronic chips, cyber-physical and smart systems and their integration into application areas such as “resource efficient transport” and sustainable energy generation, the Commission said. “Special focus is on trust, security and user friendliness of technology.”

According to the EC, Europe’s share of semiconductor production increased to more than 15% of world production during the 1990s. However, in the last decade, the share fell to below 10% in contrast to the share of Japan (22%), South Korea (18%), Taiwan (17%) and the US (13%).