What is an IPCEI – key features
„Important Projects of Common European Interest“ (IPCEI) is a key strategic instrument with regard to the implementation of the European Union Industrial Strategy. An IPCEI brings together knowledge, expertise, financial resources and economic actors throughout the Union, as to overcome important market or systemic failures and societal challenges which could not otherwise be addressed. IPCEI are large-scale European consortia in key strategic value chains featuring tightly connected company projects. IPCEI features projects with a dedicated focus on Research and Development as well as First Industrial Deployment (FID).
An IPCEI requires the approval of the European Commission under state aid law. Companies and Member States in a dedicated notification process must prove that the IPCEI follows an overriding European interest and that projects would not be realised under market forces alone. With their approval, the European Commission ensures that all EU Member States can benefit, that there is no disproportionate distortion of competition and that companies within their projects adhere to the IPCEI criteria as laid down in the IPCEI communication of 2014.
The IPCEI on Microelectronics: Joining European forces
The IPCEI on Microelectronics – originally approved in December 2018 with Austria having joined in March 2021 – features 32 companies/RTOs from four EU member states (France, Germany, Italy and Austria) as well as the United Kingdom. The IPCEI allows the participating countries to support transnational cooperation projects with major synergies in microelectronics – thus maintaining and further expanding European competencies in this field. They also ensure that the entire microelectronics value chain is reliably available to local players.
France, Germany, Italy, Austria and the United Kingdom are using state aid to promote the development of new microelectronic products across industry and national borders. The funding stems from the participating countries themselves, not the European Union. With the support of the respective state, companies are capable to advance ambitious research, development and innovation measures. Under the 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.
Strengthening key areas of the European Microelectronics Industry
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. 32 European companies/RTOs directly involved in the „IPCEI on Microelectronics“ implement 43 closely related sub-projects (for more information see “Project Structure”). In the course of the project, these companies will cooperate with up to 425 additional (indirect) partners, such as research organisations or SME, beyond the five participating states.
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 five participating states in the European microelectronics industry, to the benefit of as many as possible. Companies engage in events, publications and transnational cooperation, such as the supply of materials and equipment for production by European manufacturers in order to create visible spill-over effects for the entirety of the microelectronics industry and beyond.
Austria’s participation strengthening the IPCEI as a whole
The participation of three Austrian companies in March 2021 further strengthens the importance of the IPCEI Microelectronics for the Union. It expands its geographic coverage with the direct participation of Austria and indirect participation through collaboration and dissemination activities. Both the added linkages of the Austrian participation and the sizeable additional investments increase the innovative character of the technologies concerned and the overall financial and technological risks.