Support for private sector R&D approved as part of EU push to boost semiconductor industry
The EU has approved €8.1 billion in subsidies from 14 member states to support private sector research, innovation and industrial development of microelectronics and communication technologies.
Under the bloc’s rules on state aid, member states are restricted on subsidy provision that would distort competition in the EU’s single market. But exceptions may be made for market failures where the private sector is unwilling to shoulder the risk of driving innovation.
Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president in charge of competition policy at the European Commission, said microchips were the “backbone of innovation and of Europe’s industrial competitiveness in a digital world”.
“This is why we must increase Europe’s own chips research, development and production capabilities,” she said, announcing approval of the state subsidies on 8 June.
‘Major step forward’
The development of a stronger European semiconductor industry is a key priority for the EU, which recently approved a Chips Act setting out measures such as increased spending on microchip R&I.
Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market, said the approval of the new funding package was “a major step forward” and “another demonstration of the EU Chips Act already triggering considerable public and private investment across the European semiconductor value chain”.
The package of public support combines funding from Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.
Unlocking private investment
The €8.1bn in public funding is expected to unlock an additional €13.7bn in private investment. It is being awarded to 56 companies for projects involving additional participants including universities and research institutions.
The Commission said the R&I projects would contribute to technological advances in areas such as 5G and 6G communications, autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
The support package is badged as an Important Project of Common European Interest and is the sixth IPCEI to receive a green light under the EU’s state-aid rules.
The Commission said it was cooperating with member states on four more potential IPCEIs, including ones on health, cloud computing and hydrogen.