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Philips opens R&D rent-a-lab

Posted: 30 Jun 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:philips research? wet processing? lithography? deposition? plasma etching?

Seeking to change the way high-tech companies conduct corporate research, Philips Research has opened a multipurpose clean room here available for rent to internal R&D teams as wells as outside customers.

The 60-million euro ($72.8 million) facility, including class 100 clean rooms, is designed to handle everything from wet processing, lithography, deposition and plasma etching to e-beam, implanter and measuring and inspection.

As industrial researchers face more complexity, budget cuts and growing pressure to produce market-driven applications, Philips Research hopes its move into shared R&D turf, call "open innovation," will strengthen its bottom line while encouraging collaboration.

The heart of the initiative is an open invitation to R&D "tenants," including corporations and startups, academia and Philips' own spin-offs, to use its "high-tech campus," including new clean rooms.

The corporate research model Philips Research is spawning is analogous to the Interuniversity MicroElectronics Center (IMEC) in Leuven, Belgium. "I would be proud if this eventually becomes an IMEC-like institute," said Rick Harwig, CEO of Philips Research, "although we need to do a lot more to call it that."

Philips Research will also offer its external customers a variety of paid services, including Philips' engineering expertise in clean room management, technology integration, prototyping and pilot manufacturing. Such services are expected to become a Philips "profit center," according to Harwig.

Peter van Stiphout, chief of Microsystems technology at Cytocentrics, said his company, based in Reutlingen, Germany, has sent three engineers to the Philips campus here. Cytocentrics is paying Philips 100,000 euros ($122,458) per person per year to use the new clean room. For an extra fee, Cytocentrics can also tap Philips' engineering resources, he added.

While many electronics companies acknowledge they can no longer fund R&D, "some may have gone halfway" by forging collaboration with other companies in technology development, said Harwig. Hence, the rent-a-lab approach seeks to fill this gap in corporate research.

- Junko Yoshida

EE Times

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