On 23 November, Mrs. Martina Werner, MEP, welcomed the ECSEL JU representatives on the occasion of a working breakfast held at the EP under the title “The role of semiconductor technologies for Industry 4.0, Smart Health, IoT and Smart Mobility”.
“There is a need to highlight the contribution of the ECSEL JU to the Research & Development landscape”, said Mrs. Werner, in the spirit of the ongoing discussions on the future EU Research & Innovation Framework Programme (FP9). She expressed her confidence in ECSEL JU as a successful mechanism for bringing together actors from various sectors and creating a highly effective cross-domain environment for the future research in electronics. Before the JU stepped in, it was extremely difficult to get Member States to agree on a common ECS strategy, but the ECSEL JU facilitates these discussions and helps in building strong collaboration between the participating States. “The ECSEL JU is not only about cooperation – it’s a trustful collaboration. And that’s a big difference” said Mrs. Werner.
The event gathered representatives from all three pillars ECSEL JU is built upon – the European Commission, represented by Mr. Khalil Rouhana, DDG from DG CNECT, Mr. Jan van den Biesen, representing the three Industry Associations (ARTEMIS-IA, AENEAS and EPoSS), and Mr. Ben Ruck, Chair of the Public Authorities Board. The Industry was also represented by Mr Patrick Pype from NXP Semiconductors, The Netherlands, and Mr Francois Tuot from Gemalto, France. The ECSEL JU representation consisted of Mr. Andrea Cuomo, Chair of the ECSEL JU Governing Board, and Mr. Bert De Colvenaer, Executive Director of the Joint Undertaking.
“ECSEL, as well as the rest of the Joint Undertakings, is a unique endeavour of connecting different actors from industry and research centres in Europe, and we need to make sure all our industries will benefit from industrial innovation”, said Khalil Rouhana. He explained that the return on investment benefits not only entities acting in the ECS field, but there are large and direct benefits for other sectors as well; and this – as well as the large “leverage effect” - justifies the public investment by the EU. “For every euro we spend, more than four goes directly into the projects”, Mr Rouhana emphasized.
Although there are many success stories, everyone agreed that there is a need to start thinking bigger. ECSEL JU is fully dedicated to securing a strong contribution towards a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, not only by strengthening the current cooperation amongst the participants in its projects but also by exploring innovative tools. This is why ECSEL JU has launched the new “Lighthouse Initiatives”, which represent a further structuring of the already characteristic “clustering” activities to maximise impact in specific domains (“mobility” and “production” Lighthouses have already started).
The guests of the meeting agreed that ECS technologies are essential for the rest of the European economy. Further developments in many sectors heavily depend on the great contribution secured by ECS technologies, and the semiconductor industry is at the heart of the value chain for different types of societal domains, said Patrick Pype. “Everything needs to be “connected, smart, energy efficient and secured”. For instance, at this stage, a high-end car contains more than € 500 worth in semiconductor content and this grows 5-6% per year. We can state that the semiconductor industry is a driver, enabler and indicator of technological progress”, concluded Patrick Pype.
Francois Tuot also emphasised the role of electronics in assuring safety, reliability, privacy and security in many sectors where Europe has leadership or a significant position (e.g. Health, IoT, Smart mobility). “The cyber security market is expected to grow incredibly fast, considering general deployment of mobiles, cloud, social networks and business intelligence. Therefore, looking at threats and impact on the one hand, and opportunities on the other, it is mandatory and of paramount importance to retain sovereignty in Europe on ECS technologies”.
“The unique aspect of ECSEL JU is that stakeholders (Participating States, EU and industry) make a serious effort to align a strategic research agenda established by industry with national priorities and general ambitions of the EU. Trustful collaboration and communication is the ECSEL JU engine to set and reach further targets”, said Ben Ruck.
Jan van den Biesen, stressed that collaboration is key within ECSEL. The ECSEL JU is a unique tri-partite Public-Public-Private Partnership; 1.2 B€ from EU will leverage 1.2 B€ national co-funding and 2.4B€ in-kind contributions from industry to jointly create the critical mass needed for delivering on industrial competitiveness, economic value and societal impact. The JU Office has proven to be very capable of managing the R&I programme in a cost-effective way. Furthermore, the industry believes that ECSEL JU is open, transparent and inclusive. It is an eco-system that includes large, medium and small enterprises, universities and institutes, and they are all indispensable for successful research. Mr van den Biesen concluded: “Calls are open to anyone; you do not need to be related to an association. But even the membership of the associations is open: you just need to have R&I in Europe. A double openness.” Patrick Pype added: “All these actors together create the Strategic Research Agenda, a joint effort and investment across the whole of European industry to collaborate.”
Bert De Colvenaer underlined that in modern times, no national economy can stand up to the global competition without mastering ECS technologies. He reflected on the necessity of continuing investment in ECS technology development, or else face having to use imported solutions for crucial societal challenges. “ECSEL JU is playing a key role in this sector. It is more than a funding instrument - it is also an ambitious programme with a powerful mix of short, medium and long-term vision”.
“ECSEL JU has already demonstrated that it has an important impact on the EU electronics industry and we are committed to quantify its benefits,” said Andrea Cuomo. “Since this unique JU model was started in 2008, each euro invested by the EU has resulted in more than €6 (ARTEMIS, ENIAC and ECSEL JUs together) for research and innovation activities in Europe. To optimize time to market and maximize returns and job creations, ECSEL JU must work with the EP, Member States and the European Commission in order to synchronize Research, Regulation and Standardisation”.
Mrs Werner agreed: “The EU must create its own standardisation solution and not fall on the easy solution or focus on the US.”
“Fruitful cooperation with MEPs is crucial and the ECSEL JU is fully committed to inform all policy makers about ECSEL JU projects results and achievements”, concluded Bert De Colvenaer.