This week saw the announcement of the formation of a new ‘cluster of clusters’ called (not surprisingly) Silicon Europe, which has as its goal to make Europe the leading center for energy efficient micro- and nanoelectronics and information and communications technology (ICT). The country specific clusters that have come together on this new initiative are Silicon Saxony (Dresden/Germany), DSP Valley (Belgium), Minalogic (Grenoble/France) and Point One (Eindhoven/Netherlands). According to EE Times Europe, in 2007 only 10% (~ 28 billion euros) of investments in microelectronics went to Europe, while 48% went to Asia and Europe’s share of the semiconductor industry has dropped from 16% in 2000 to 21%. So there’s certainly an urgent need for Europe to join forces via an entity such as Silicon Europe propose ways to reverse these trends and transition Europe into a global powerhouse in this sector.
As Silicon Europe will be a cross-market initiative, it has the muscle to emerge as an important force in driving growth of the sector due to the sheer size of jobs it accounts for (150k), research institutes and companies it represents (800), and global leaders it counts as members, including such corporate giants as Philips, Thales, and Schneider Electric. Silicon Europe’s Chief Representative, who is also CEO of Minalogic, sees this as an extremely important effort to correct Europe’s principal barrier to establishing Europe as a leader in this industry, visibility stemming from the lack of coordination of Europe’s research institutes. From his perspective, Europe has the expertise and experience to put it more firmly on the map, however others, namely Taiwan, Silicon Valley, and Korea, have done a much better job at coordinating their message and promoting what they do. He’s also expecting that this new initiative will also help to encourage member states and the EU to increase investments in education and research.
It looks like choosing Chabal as Chief Representative of Silicon Europe was a wise move as the cluster that he leaders, Minalogic based in Grenoble, France is great example Silicon Europe to follow. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Minalogic was awarded the Cluster Management Excellence Quality Label of “Gold” (the highest possible rating) from the European Commission Cluster Excellence Initiative. The label was created by the Commission to establish an independent, voluntary proof of cluster management and is meant to motivate cluster managers to compare their programs and policies and to share best practices. In order to achieve this rating, clusters are rigorously evaluated along 31 criteria, including governance, strategy, and achievements. It’s, of course, great to see France not only playing a key role in transforming Europe’s nano and microelectronics industry, but also offering a great example to follow.