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65 Members and Customers discuss Industry Advocacy issues at 2nd SEMI Europe Member Forum in Frankfurt on 23 May

On 23 May, SEMI Europe brought together 65 Executive members and customers for its second Member Forum. This event, launched in 2006 for the first time, aims at gathering, once a year, SEMI members in Europe to discuss SEMI and industry issues.

Mark your calendar: SEMI Europe Member Forum 12 June 2008 in Munich

Whereas last year's main topic was the relocation of SEMICON Europa from Munich to Stuttgart, this year's focus was on SEMI Europe's Industry Advocacy efforts, including access to public research funds.

The first part of the Forum was devoted to a presentation by the SEMI staff on its main achievements in 2006/2007, including major conferences and events, Photovoltaic (PV) strategy, and developments in standards and industry advocacy as well as the preparation of SEMICON Europa 2007. Download Presentation from SEMI Europe.

To illustrate the diversification of SEMI Members into PV, Harald Binder, CEO of Centrotherm Thermal Solutions, presented the successful diversification of Centrotherm from semiconductor into PV equipment.

Download Presentation from Centrotherm

This was followed by a debate on "Strengthening the Competitiveness of the European semiconductor and related Industries". The aim of the debate was to obtain some feedback on the priorities which SEMI Europe should set itself in Industry Advocacy. Six priority themes were proposed for the discussion, based on current and upcoming EU initiatives. (Policies and legislation)

  • Advantages of new Energy policy
  • to Research and Development Funding
  • Environment, Health and Safety Legislation
  • more Math and Science in Education
  • Protection of Intellectual Property
  • Boosting and Opening of Markets

1. Taking Advantages of new Energy policy

SEMI supports the objective set by the EU to achieve the goal of 20 % of renewable energy by 2020, but raises the issue that each EU Member State has too much autonomy to reach this goal, because the notion of renewable energy is in itself too vague. The proposal was approved, that SEMI would work with EPIA as main channel to push Industry Advocacy messages on this issue. A SEMI Member said that PV companies are relatively young, dynamic, and are growing fast. SEMI has to approach them, and increase its credibility in the sector. SEMI is a new player in this segment.

Also the importance of standards was mentioned, mainly to accelerate the decrease of the unit cost/Watt. SEMI has secured the support of EPIA to lead this activity, and this will be further worked out in the coming weeks. All members that are interested to participate in this activity should contact SEMI Europe.

The other target set by the EU (reduce by 20% the total use of energy used by 2020, as part of the Kyoto program) was also discussed. The directive on Energy using Products (EuP) could be used as an instrument (it was mentioned that the pump industry is working on this matter with the perspective of using it as a competitive advantage). A participant referred to the work currently carried out by SEMATECH on energy consumption reduction and the applicable SEMI standards

2. Access to Research and Development Funding

Europe has a strong program to support its ICT-industry and to help it safeguarding its leadership position. The European 7th Framework Program has a total budget of 52 billion Euros over the next 7 years, and 9.1 billion Euros are earmarked for ICT. Also other programs exist, such as ENIAC/AENEAS, MEDEA+ and national funding schemes, all focused on enabling and safeguarding the competitive position of Europe. SEMI wants to help its members in improving their access to these programs. Several strategies were proposed, among which:

  • making sure that research needs of the industry are recognized by policy makers through SEMI support towards the ‘Strategic Research Area’ (SRA) related to Equipment, materials and manufacturing in the 7th Framework Program.
  • Giving SEMI members a better insight and a stronger support on the various existing options through information sessions on funded programs.

It was given a full support to these strategies. The importance for SEMI to be part of AENEAS was also recalled.

Follow this link for more information on AENEAS.

3. Applicable Environment, Health and Safety Legislation

Topics approved to be further monitored and discussed include the implementation of REACH, the EU regulation on registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals. SEMI pointed out that the requirements for an exchange of information between companies along the whole supply chain will increase, as a result of the obligation for producers to proof the safety of their products (reverse burden of the proof). This raises the question of the disclosure of confidential information and the protection of intellectual property rights.

SEMI also committed to monitor the upcoming review of other key legislation affecting the functioning of the Internal market (New Approach/CE marking directives), or in the environment area (revision of the WEEE directive).

Finally, with regards to nanotechnologies, participants insisted that SEMI should strictly use the word “nanoelectronics” and differ itself by insisting on the non-volatile/fixed nature of nanoelectronics.

4. Support more Math and Science in Education

Workforce development issues led to a very interesting debate. In March 2007, SEMI organized for the first time in Europe (together with STMicroelectronics and Soitec) a High Tech University (HTU), the initiative of the SEMI Foundation to raise the awareness for and the interest in math and science for young students. To finance further HTUS, SEMI Europe is working with partner companies to obtain public funding, mainly through the 7th Framework Program and through local or regional governments. Other topics on SEMI’s agenda are:

  • a set of recommendations to a European expert group of scientists set up by the European Commission to propose measures to promote sciences in secondary schools
  • to support to the possible creation of a European ‘Blue Card’, the equivalent of the US green card, for the recruitment of highly skilled workforce from abroad. (A participant expressed his fear of the risk to create a new brain drain from emerging countries).

A participant insisted on the need to particularly target young women, dramatically underrepresented. The issue of career perspectives (or the lack of) for engineers and technicians in comparison with managers was also strongly raised, even if many companies are addressing this.

5. Better Protection of Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is one of the top priorities of the International SEMI Board of Directors. At European level, the European Commission announced earlier this year its intention to re-shape a proposal for the Community Patent, which would be a major incentive for European companies to innovate since the application procedure and the protection of patents would be easier and at much lower costs (It costs three times higher to apply and to manage patents in Europe than in the US or Japan). Also critical for innovative industry is the proposal by the German EU Presidency to establish a code of conduct to rule relations between R&D centers and the industry, in order to avoid conflicts related to the share of IP rights. The audience gave full support to this agenda.

6. Support Boosting and Opening of Markets

SEMI proposed to support EU initiatives aiming at reinforcing, supporting or boosting High Tech industries in the electronic area, such as the defense industry(the European Commission is proposing to open the national markets to all EU Member States and complete the Internal Market to the largest possible extent) and the space industry (including the Galileo Programme).

There was no objection against SEMI following up the opening of negotiations between the EU and Korea, India and the ASEAN for the conclusion of free trade agreements, or supporting Russia’s access to the WTO.

SEMI mentioned the European Commission’s initiative to reinforce the EU’s trade promotion instruments, particularly with regards to monitoring and fighting technical barriers to trade.

7. Others

A participant raised the idea of having an EU “Small Business Act”, like in the USA. Another participant proposed to better integrate the Central European Countries in the Community.

The ideas exchanged during the debate will nourish the reflection of the European Advisory Board.

European SEMI Award 2008

For the first time, the European SEMI Award was presented at the Member Forum - it used to be presented at the SEMICON Europa International Reception. This year, the Award Committee's choice was Dr Michael Töpper, Group Manager, wafer level CSP and BCB Process applications at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (Fraunhofer IZM). Dr Töpper received the Award from the Committee Chairman Mart Graef for his key role in implementing the concept of wafer level packaging into manufacturing.

Access to EU R&D Funding

Download Presentation from Gisele Roesems, European Commission

Download Presentation from Myer Morron on support action to help SMEs getting access to FP7

After a networking lunch, the afternoon session was devoted to an information session on access to EU R&D funds, in particular the nanoelectronics part of the 7th R&D Program (FP7). Ms Gisele Roesems, Deputy Head of Unit, Nanoelectronics, at the European Commission, gave an overview on the research themes selected in FP7. Mr. Myer Morron, in charge of EPISTEP (support action to help SMEs getting access to FP7), insisted on the interaction between FP7 and ENIAC, more particularly on SEMI's role in shaping ENIAC's Research Strategic Agenda, that in turn will influence FP7.

In 2008, the SEMI Europe Member Forum will take place on 12 June in Munich.

Mark your calendar: SEMI Europe Member Forum 12 June 2008 in Munich