European Research Labs to Receive €2.5 bn for Advanced Chip Development Under EU Chips Act

In a significant boost to Europe’s semiconductor industry, leading research laboratories are set to receive €2.5 billion ($2.72 billion) in funding as part of the European Chips Act. The announcement was made by Belgium’s imec on Wednesday, highlighting the establishment of a pilot line aimed at developing and testing future generations of advanced computer chips.
BE SemiconductorsThe European Union introduced the €43 billion Chips Act in 2023 to enhance domestic chipmaking capabilities. This move is a strategic response to similar initiatives by China, the United States, and other governments following the semiconductor shortages experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Imec, a prominent research hub based in Leuven, Belgium, will host the pilot line dedicated to sub-2 nanometre chips. This initiative will provide European industries, academic institutions, and startups access to cutting-edge chip manufacturing technology, which would otherwise be prohibitively expensive for individual entities to develop or test.

Major chip manufacturers like TSMC, Intel, and Samsung are already launching 2 nanometre chips in commercial plants, with each facility costing up to €20 billion. The European R&D line aims to facilitate the development of even more advanced chips and will be equipped with machinery from both European and global equipment and materials companies, Reuters news report said.

“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 CEO Luc Van den Hove in a statement. He added that the NanoIC pilot line would support diverse industries in Europe, including automotive, telecommunications, and healthcare.

The funding comprises €1.4 billion from various EU programs and Belgium’s Flanders government, with an additional €1.1 billion from industry players, including leading equipment maker ASML. Other notable research partners include CEA-Leti of France, Fraunhofer of Germany, VTT of Finland, CSSNT of Romania, and the Tyndall Institute of Ireland.

Despite these investments, actual financial support under the EU plan has been slower compared to other regions. So far, only STMicroelectronics has been approved to receive €2.9 billion in aid from France for a plant in Crolles. Meanwhile, Intel and TSMC are still awaiting EU approval for billions of euros in German state funding to commence construction of plants in Magdeburg and Dresden later this year.