EU signs off on €8.1bn for communications and microchip R&D


The latest Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) will focus on microelectronics and communication technologies, providing support for 68 projects in 14 countries

The latest IPCEI from the European Commission (EC) will see €8.1 billion in public funding delivered to support various projects aimed to bolster the EU’s R&D efforts in the telecoms and semiconductor sectors.

The 68 projects in question will take place in 14 countries with the goal of creating new microelectronics and communication technologies and developing energy-efficient and resource-saving electronics systems and manufacturing methods.

According to press release from the EC, these projects will include wireless technologies, such as 5G and 6G, as well as supporting the growth of more nascent sectors like autonomous driving, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.

These projects will also be supported by an estimated €13.7 billion in private investment, with 56 companies already committed to contributing. These companies include major players from a the  telecoms, microchips, aviation, automotive, and manufacturing sectors, such as Airbus, Analog Devices, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, and Renault, to name but a few.

The projects also include 30 associated participants and around 600 indirect partners.

Overall, the first projects are expected to generate results by 2025, with all projects completed by 2032.

According to the EC, these projects will create 8,700 jobs and support many more indirectly.

“The green and digital transitions require new, advanced technological solutions,” said Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager. “This is why we must increase the Europe’s own chips research, development and production capabilities. We need to be pioneers and develop truly innovative solutions and their first industrial deployment in Europe.”

This is the latest in a string of IPCEI initiatives that began back in 2018, the first of which dedicated €1.9 billion to the EU’s microelectronics sector. Since then, there have been four further IPCEIs, two targeting battery technology in 2019 and 2021, and two focussing on hydrogen production and storage in 2022.

This latest IPCEI on microelectronics and communications technology is the largest of the six projects in terms of both public and private investment, as well as the number of companies and projects involved.

This new fund is one of many initiatives the EU has spawned in recent years to help bolster the bloc’s technology sector in a bid to ensure what it calls ‘digital sovereignty’; i.e., eliminating the Union’s reliance on the likes of China and the US for critical technologies. Perhaps most notable among these schemes is the European Chips Act, which aims to deliver €43 billion in public and private investment to increase Europe’s market share in the semiconductor industry to 20% by 2030.

Is the European Commission doing enough to support the EU’s digital economy and sovereignty in 2023? Join the telecoms sector in discussion at this year’s Total Telecom Congress live in Amsterdam

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