Update on the European Chips Act – Three Pillars Explained
On March 29, the European Commission and DG Connect held an informative session on the EU Chips Act, explaining the most important initiatives and framing the corridor of what to expect for the member states in the course of the Chips Act.
Our cluster partner Silicon Alps has summarized the most important takeaways.
THREE PILLARS explained
First and foremost, the Chips Act is built on 3 pillars: Chips for Europe Initiative, Security of Supply, Monitoring and Crisis Response.
Pillar 1: Chips for Europe Initiative
Accordingly to the slogan “Bridge the gap from lab to fab” the Chips Act seeks to make the R&D ecosystem faster in terms of quick innovations that are ready-for-market, user- and industry-friendly. Moreover, better and easier access to funding and platforms for startups and SMEs is a clear objective of pillar 1.
There are 5 main objectives
- Greatly improve design skills (this includes a skills program for SMEs and startups).
- Establish a Chips Fund for fast funding for innovation projects
- Improve pilot lines and establish new ones
- Drive Quantum Chips development
- Establish a network of competence centers in Europe
APST will have an important role as Advisor within the Chips Act, but there is a new instance.
Also important and emphasized several times: other initiatives like APST or IPCEI are complementary, i.e. nothing is replaced there and serves other phases in the Value Chain.
Pillar 2. Security of Supply
The core of Pillar 2 are first-of-a-kind facilities. These FOAKs are planned in 2 groups, either as IPF (Integrated production Facility) or Open Foundries – according to presenter Kilian Gross, everyone falls inevitably into one of the 2 groups, there should be no hybrids, as they assure. Companies can apply with a number of conditions and criteria and up to 100% of the funding gap will be covered as state aid.
Pillar 3: Preparedness, Monitoring and Crisis Response
- Pillar 3 is focusing on crisis management and establishing an infrastructure to identify impending shortages as quickly as possible and counteract them through joint resource planning.
- For this purpose, a new “expert group” has been convened, which has already held its first meeting and is eventually to become the “European Semiconductor Board”.
- A three-stage model is to monitor, trigger and – in the worst case – we come to the crisis stage. Thereafter a toolbox comes into play, but they emphasize that this will only be used in extreme emergencies, see slides below.
- Furthermore, the EC will act as a central purchasing point, as already has been done in the course of the pandemic with the central purchasing and distribution of vaccinations – this aims at strengthening the negotiation basis on the global market leading to better prices and a better overview of EU resources.