View from ISS: Challenge and Opportunity

View from ISS: Challenge and Opportunity

By Heinz Kundert, President, SEMI Europe

Ten countries and 162 senior managers participated at the ISS 2009 in Dresden. Discussions focused on the challenges and opportunities of how to get through the downturn and to emerge stronger once the market “picks up” again— and the continuing push to keep Europe ahead of the world in semiconductor technology for application specific device technology and manufacturing such as telecommunication, automotive, medical and industrial.

One of the critical issues discussed was the competitiveness of Europe in device design and manufacturing. Presentations from INTEL, TSMC, AMD, ST, NXP, Bosch, X-Fab and more showed various business models with their success factors. For many, it was an “eye-opener” to hear that manufacturing of microprocessors in Europe is competitive compared to other regions. This was verified by many of the large- and medium-size device makers, including Intel in Ireland.

Another highlight was the keynote address of Thomas Jurk, the Deputy Minister of the Free State of Saxony and Minister for Labor and Education. It became clear that State government will continue to support the semiconductor and related industry as its highest priority. With 2,000 companies and 44,000 people employed in the ICT sector, this industry is too important for Saxony to let it go. The level of local support as well as the role of the European Union in cross-sectorial technology was intensively discussed in a high-level panel.

Another sector coming closer to semiconductors is the photovoltaic industry. Eighty percent of all cells in Europe are produced in the neighborhood of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. This industry is growing at above average rates and is a good example of government initiative coupled with entrepreneurship. Recently, the city of Halle in Saxony-Anhalt has been appointed as the cluster of excellent for Solar technology. This means that the so called “Solar Valley” will be funded by the German government together with the State of Saxony-Anhalt and the Solar industry.

Toward the end of ISS, the traditional forecasting session encouraged the audience. The two world-renowned forecasters— IC-Inside and Future Horizons— see an upturn as of the 3rd quarter of 2009 with a high probability.

The ISS was highly rated as it is an excellent place to network and share visions and strategies on how to go forward.

4 Feb 2009