IPCEI – simply explained
With an „Important Project of Common European Interest“ (IPCEI), EU Member States can for the first time promote innovation up to the first industrial deployment. This is new, as EU states are generally only allowed to promote innovations outside regional development areas as research and development projects. This is intended to safeguard competition. However, if there is an overriding European interest and if the investments to be made cannot be financed by the companies alone, such projects can be implemented jointly by several states thanks to special state aid rules.
An IPCEI requires the approval of the European Commission under state aid law. The Commission ensures that all EU Member States can benefit and that there is no disproportionate distortion of competition.
IPCEI on Microelectronics
At the end of 2018, the European Commission approved the „Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) on Microelectronics“ under state aid law. This allowed four European Member States to jointly support transnational cooperation projects with major synergies in microelectronics – for the first time until the end of first industrial deployment. With the „IPCEI on Microelectronics“, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom intend to maintain and further expand European competencies in this field. They also want to ensure that the entire microelectronics value chain is reliably available to local players. France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom are using state aid to promote the development of new microelectronic products across industry and national borders. The funding has come from the participating countries themselves, not the EU.
With the support of the respective state, companies are motivated to advance ambitious research, development and innovation measures. Under IPCEI on Microelectronics, companies can also invest in special equipment and construction, creating conditions that can be used for many purposes in the long term. The „IPCEI on Microelectronics“ therefore also brings together the entire wide-ranging family of microelectronics topics: e.g. optics development, hardware design, process knowledge, production facilities, chip manufacture and downstream applications in a wide variety of industries. 29 European companies are directly involved in the „IPCEI on Microelectronics“. They implement 40 closely related sub-projects. In the course of the project, these companies will cooperate with numerous other partners, such as research organisations or SME, beyond the four participating Member States of the European Union. The IPCEI on Microelectronics is divided into 5 technology fields: energy efficient chips, power semiconductors, sensors, advanced optical equipment and compound materials. The technological knowledge generated by the participating companies through „IPCEI on Microelectronics“ is thus to be disseminated far beyond the four participating Member States in the European microelectronics industry, to the benefit of as many as possible. Events, publications and transnational cooperation are planned, such as the supply of materials and equipment for production by European manufacturers.