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EC okays $600M aid for Crolles3 R&D project

Posted: 30 Jan 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:France Crolles3 support? R&D Nano2012? financial aid?

The European Commission has decided not to raise any objections under state aid rules to the financial support of 457 million euros (about $600 million) being granted by France to the Nano2012 R&D program, also called Crolles3.

The support is part of a strategic investment program of 3.6 billion euros (about $4.8 billion) being coordinated by STMicroelectronics NV that is expected to create 650 jobs. The program includes the CEA-LETI research center in Grenoble, France, and other industrial players and research bodies. IBM was mentioned in earlier descriptions of Nano2012, but was not included in the European Commission's statement on aid approval issued Jan. 28

The five-year Nano2012 program is aimed at developing technologies for the design and manufacture of integrated circuits at 32- and 22nm minimum geometries. The European Commission said that the program was intended to compensate for market failure and would only have a limited impact on competition, and therefore was allowable as state aid.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The Nano2012 program to develop new technologies for the manufacture of semiconductors in Europe is in line with the EU's major research objectives. Its positive effects will far outweigh any distortion of competition that may result from the aid." The major portion of the aid, 340 million euro (about $450 million), will go primarily to ST (340 million), which is the project leader. Nano2012 is expected to make use of the potential of the Crolles-Grenoble R&D ecosystem and help establish a cluster of derived technologies in Crolles.

The Crolles2 Alliance was formed in 2000 and renewed in 2002 when Freescale (then Motorola) joined the existing alliance of ST and NXP (then Philips Semiconductors) to create and manufacture future-generation SoC technologies.

ST was unable to negotiate a continuation with the existing partners as both Freescale and NXP opted to reduced R&D in line with a more fab-lite strategy. ST subsequently opted to go down a similar route but working with IBM as a source of the core CMOS technology and working at Crolles to develop derivatives of the technology.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times Europe





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