Imec raises €2.5 billion for pilot line advanced chip technology

Imec can count on 2.5 billion euros of investment for a new pilot line for chips of less than 2 nanometres (nanoIC), the Leuven research centre announced on Tuesday. Flanders thus shares in the billions in aid to strengthen Europe's chip industry.

In 2023, the European Union's €43 billion Chips Act was announced to support domestic European chip manufacturing, countering plans by China, the US and other governments to support their own industries after shortages during the COVID pandemic. Leuven research hub Imec will host the pilot line for the sub-2 nanometre chips, the most compact chips possible with current technology, used for artificial intelligence (AI) and other applications requiring high and fast computing power. On Tuesday, the research institute announced it has reeled in 2.5 billion euros, one of the largest investments in Belgium in recent years. 

The money for the research and development line comes from both public and private players. The Flemish government and the European Commission (through the Horizon and Digital Europe funding programmes) are coming up with a total of 1.4 billion euros. A grant agreement will be signed later this year under the Joint Undertaking for Chips. Private contributions, including from Dutch chip machine manufacturer ASML, amount to €1.1 billion. 

The Leuven pilot line is one of four new ‘strategic pilot lines’ funded through the Chips Act. The other three pilot lines will be launched at the research institutes CEA-Leti in Grenoble, France (focused on low-power chips), Fraunhofer in Frankfurt, Germany (integration of multiple types of semiconductors and systems in one module) and the University of Tampere, Finland (chips with semiconductor material other than silicon).

In a statement, Imec-CEO Luc Van den Hove says the investment will allow the research centre to remain at the forefront of the development of the most advanced chips and will enable it to better respond to market demand. “The investment will enable us to accelerate our pace of innovation, strengthen the European chip system and boost economic growth in Europe and Flanders.”


#FlandersNewsService | People work at the Imec research center for nano-electronics and digital technologies in Leuven © BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE

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