First-hand view of a new market

Click here to enlarge image

Heavy government investment in manufacturing development abroad; increased cleanroom training efforts in U.S. universities; new technologies to automate cleanroom sterilization; new definitions for isolation technologies: This month's news section has turned out to be an ideal sampling of some of the hottest market issues for 2001—and we didn't even it plan it that way.

Last month we reported that the Nanyang Technical University (NTU) in Singapore, was investing $500 million to start a college in hopes of producing researchers and technically trained workers to help attract the top 15 life science firms.

On this month's cover, Mark DeSorbo reports that Schering -Plough has committed to four facilities, including a $125 million sterile bio-tech facility expected to be operational in 2002-2003. This marks a new boost to a growing market segment in the region, putting new demands on cleanroom technology, including an increased awareness of validation issues, proper isolator use and new ways to incorporate sterile manufacturing procedures—new challenges for end-users and vendors alike.

But rare are the times that one actually gets to step out from behind the laptap and see this kind of investment at work.

I was recently a guest of the ICEP-Portugal, a government funded investment agency aimed at boosting Portugal's position in the global economy. Although I was not there on CleanRooms business—I was actually assisting my wife in research for a story she's writing—our tour guides continually pounded home the fact that aside from its deep, sincere pride in its history and tourist attractions, this is a nation hungry for respect in the international manufacturing arena.

Damned by its location, Portugal has long been the stepchild of the European Union. Yet, when you touch down amidst its rolling, yellow-green hills and stroll Lisbon's steep, ancient streets, you can't help but get the feeling that its proud people have had enough of this second-class treatment.

Massive, arching cranes fill the skyline, jackhammers and drills pierce your ears, teams of men in neat lines of four re-position the small, diamond shaped stones that create the miles of walking surfaces that are one of the city's architectural hallmarks. One gets the sensation that this is a city, a country, readying itself for the world stage.

In our Inside Europe coverage this month, Hank Hogan takes a look inside moves by the ICEP that could put Portugal, and the Iberian peninsula, on the semiconductor map—and its timing could put it in ideal position for the next industry upswing. Industry consultants have recently reported that sites near Porto, the country's second largest city, have ample universities and technical colleges, state-of-the-art test and assembly operations, basic utility needs and all signs of a solid, eager work force.

With three of the top 11 chip makers based in Europe, I find it hard to believe that this overlooked part of the globe won't step up and make a small, yet significant impact on not just the chip market, but the pharmacuecutial and biotech markets as well—and in turn the global cleanroom markets.

When looking for results, my philosophy has been to give the job to the hungriest. I'm sure the world's “clean manufacturers” will follow the same gut instinct.

Michael Levans
Chief Editor


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account. Comments won't automatically be posted to your social media accounts unless you select to share.