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A Report from the 5th SEMI Brussels Forum

A couple weeks ago, the 5th SEMI Brussels Forum took place, attracting top-tier government leaders and industry professionals.

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By Heinz Kundert

First, I’d like to give you some background on the SEMI Brussels Forum. It is our industry’s annual advocacy-focused event attended by industry executives and stakeholders of the European Union. Currently, our forum is the leading policy event for the European semiconductor and photovoltaic (PV) equipment and materials industries.

A couple weeks ago, the 5th SEMI Brussels Forum took place, attracting top-tier government leaders and industry professionals. Industry leaders and EU representatives discussed practical recommendations on some of Europe‘s Key Enabling Technologies (KET), in particular to address the needs of the European semiconductor and photovoltaic (PV) industries.

Two hundred participants from 29 countries were in attendance, with more than halve representing the European Commission, European Parliament, officials from Regions, and other associations. With five keynote speakers, two panels, two video presentations plus active participation by attendees, the Brussels Forum was both grounded in reality yet motivating.

Many industry executives weighed in on the situation. Dirk Stenkamp, COO of Centrotherm PV, stressed the importance of maintaining that status as an “innovation and technology leader” of semiconductors and PV. He is confident that Europe has “big opportunities” in the industry. He also reminded his colleagues that the continent itself is “larger than you think” when you include Eastern Europe and the Arab nations, and all resources must be drawn upon to remain competitive in the “war for talent.” Another battle in the industry lies in competition between Europe and Asia. Rutger Wijburg, SVP of NXP Semiconductors, offers his own solution, suggesting that “all you need to do is invent cost-effective manufacturing.” He encouraged his European colleagues, saying the key to success is a “customer-focused passion to win.”

Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, stated: “Semiconductors are for the information age what grain was for the agrarian age, and iron and steel were for the industrial age.” As such, Kroes explained that semiconductors are a source of both jobs and innovation. Also reassuring was Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Change, who stated that in the photovoltaic industry, “market fundamentals are on [Europe’s] side.” Kroes affirms that in order to continue to succeed in the competitive semiconductor industry on a global scale, EU member states “can’t be fragmented.”

Genevieve Fioraso, deputy mayor of Grenoble, presented a keynote that features MEMS and NEMS, which combined with biotechnology and photonics, comprised some of the Key Enabling Technologies, one of the focal points of the forum. MEMS and NEMS were described as comprising 12% of European economic development, creating added value in jobs, SME’s and start-ups. Fioraso went on to voice support for clusters, as well as the necessity to support the full value chain. This would give rise to a common theme of the forum—a call for European unity across geographical and industrial lines.

Similarly, Eicke Weber, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy, urged Europeans to “get active” in the industry through investment support. Luc Van den hove, IMEC, was perhaps the most adamant about European collaboration, stating, “If the Europe doesn’t work with the world leaders, the world leaders will work together without Europe.” He lamented how European innovation tends to “stop at the borders.” He ended his keynote with a formal call to action, urging Europeans to “leverage [their] strengths across Europe, to stimulate true European cross-border collaboration…Let’s make Europe 2020 happen.”

Presentations from the 5th SEMI Brussels Forum are available at:
http://semieurope.omnibooksonline.com/2011/brussels/

You can also view videos from Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP2QooWLIr8 and Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5Z-UyojF8Q.

In addition, SolarPV.TV conducted onsite interviews with Yvon Pellegrin (president, SEMCO Engineering), André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé (president & CEO, Soitec), Eicke Weber (director, Fraunhofer ISE – Institute for Solar Energy), Dirk Stenkamp (COO, centrotherm pv), and myself. Click on this link for access: http://www.tinyurl.com/SolarPV-SEMI-Brussels-Forum


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