October 30, 2007 – A new public/private R&D initiative is being laid out to replace the MEDEA+ program for cooperative R&D in microelectronics that is set to expire in 2008, which over the past seven years has watched over three generations of CMOS technology, and spearheaded work on fields ranging from smart cards, image sensors, and automotive electronics.
The new program, “CATRENE” (Cluster for Application and Technology Research in Europe on NanoElectronics), will build on the success of MEDEA+ as well as similar initiatives JESSI and MEDEA, take up the challenge of help Europe’s microelectronics industry develop and maintain strengths in nanoelectronics. Starting Jan. 2008, the four-year program (extendable another four years) similarly under the EUREKA umbrella, will require investments totaling about 6 billion euros/year (US $8.65B) and about 4000 person-years annually. Its predecessor, MEDEA+, has comprised 77 projects involving 20,000 person-years, involving about 450 partner organizations.
Like the other programs, though, CATRENE will seek to embrace all key factors in the electronics chain — applications, technology, materials, and equipment suppliers, as well as universities, publicly-supported research institutions, and industrial companies. But unlike predecessors JESSI, MEDEA, and MEDEA+, which split programs into technology and applications subprograms, CATRENE will emphasize convergence, focusing on large identified application markets from which required technologies will be derived. Key technology goals include: maintaining and increasing Europe’s strength in IP, lithography, and silicon-on-insulator (SOI) materials; maintaining world leadership in advanced semiconductor packaging technologies; and strengthening European expertise in applying semiconductor process technology to efficient designs for new electronics applications.
One of the major aspects of CATRENE will be umbrella “lighthouse projects” that tie focused R&D programs to major socioeconomic needs, e.g. transportation, healthcare, security, energy, and entertainment — for example, exploring the role of electronics and information systems as society faces structural problems including aging population, rising healthcare and energy costs, and pressures to increase productivity.
“For more than a decade, the EUREKA JESSI, MEDEA and MEDEA+ programs have made it possible for Europe’s industry to reinforce its position in semiconductor process technology, manufacturing, and applications, and to become a key supplier to markets such as telecommunications, consumer electronics and automotive electronics,” said Jozef Cornu, chairman of MEDEA+ and designated chairman of CATRENE, in a statement. “Nanoelectronics will offer enormous opportunities to those who are the first to master and bring to market new technologies and applications, and we believe that CATRENE will play a vital role in helping Europe’s microelectronics industry to go from strength to strength.”