Leading European research labs will receive 2.5 billion euros (US$2.72 billion) in funding under the European Chips Act to set up a pilot line that will develop and test future generations of advanced semiconductors, Belgium’s imec said on Wednesday.
The 43-billion-euro Chips Act was announced in 2022 and established last year by the European Union (EU) to support domestic semiconductor manufacturing, a counterbalance to plans by China, the United States and other governments to shore up their own industries following shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Leuven, Belgium-based research hub imec will host the pilot line for the sub-2-nanometre chips to help European industry, academics and start-ups access chip-making technology that would otherwise be too expensive for any one of them to test or use in development.
European Union Commissioners (from left) Margrethe Vestager, Thierry Breton and Mariya Gabriel at a press conference announcing the European Chips Act in Brussels, Belgium, on February 8, 2022. Photo: Shutterstock

The EU research and development line is intended to help develop future generations of even more advanced chips, and will be outfitted with equipment from European and global tech suppliers.

“The investment will allow us to double volumes and learning speed, accelerating our innovation pace, strengthening the European chip ecosystem, and driving economic growth in Europe.” said imec chief executive Luc Van den Hove in a statement.

“The NanoIC pilot line will support a diversity of industries in Europe, including automotive, telecommunications, health and others.”

Several EU programmes and Belgium’s Flanders government are providing 1.4 billion euros in funding, with industry players, including leading semiconductor equipment maker ASML, providing 1.1 billion euros, according to imec, Europe’s largest independent research centre in the field of nanoelectronics and digital technologies.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s biggest contract chip maker, is awaiting subsidies from Berlin for the construction of an advanced new plant in Germany. Photo: Agence France-Presse
Other research laboratories taking part include CEA-Leti of France, Fraunhofer of Germany, VTT of Finland, CSSNT of Romania and the Tyndall Institute of Ireland.
Actual aid under the EU plan comes mostly from member states and has lagged money received in other regions, with only STMicroelectronics so far approved to receive 2.9 billion euros in aid from France for a plant in Crolles.

Intel and TSMC are still awaiting EU approval for billions of euros in German state funding to begin building plants in Magdeburg and Dresden this year.