EU funding ECSEL: Germany clears again in the last round

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The funding initiative “Electronics Components and Systems for European Leadership” (ECSCEL), launched in 2014, is approaching its retirement age. In the last of seven funding rounds, the EU selected 14 projects – German universities, research institutions and companies are involved in 13 of them. Also included are projects for autonomous driving, new types of sensors and upcoming process technology.

While the project sums of one to three-digit million sums are still fairly manageable, the conclusion of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) shows the actual dimensions of the program: Within seven rounds, 92 European joint projects were funded with financial injections of 1.15 billion euros – the total costs, for example through additional state investments, amount to 4.6 billion euros.

Germany is well represented with 79 projects. The 1.2 billion euros in total project costs include around 280 million euros in EU funding, with around 240 million euros in national funding. Almost a quarter of the EU funds for ECSEL thus went to Germany. The national funding for the German participants comes from the BMBF to a rounded amount of 205 million euros, 32 million euros from Saxony and 2 million euros from Thuringia.

In the case of the current funding round, the 14 selected joint projects will receive around 37 million euros in EU funding. The BMBF is funding the 13 projects with German participation with around 33 million euros, Saxony with 1.4 million euros, Thuringia with 1.1 million euros.

The largest project under German management is the “Automotive Intelligence for / at Connected Shared Mobility” (AI4CSM) for which Infineon is responsible, with a total budget of just under 42 million euros. The aim of the project is to develop highly reliable electronic components and systems for automated vehicles.

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In the Netherlands, the semiconductor supplier ASML is coordinating the project “Integration of processes and modules for the 2 nm node meeting Power Performance Area and Cost requirements” (ID2PPAC) for research on process technology with structures of 2 nanometers, which should be ready for series production by 2025. ASML’s exposure machines use TSMC, Intel and Samsung, for example – no other company sells lithography systems with extreme ultraviolet (EUV) wavelengths, which are necessary for all manufacturing processes from the 7 nanometer generation. In previous funding rounds, the EU already supported the development of earlier process generations, including 3 nm technology.

The German Future Prize of November 2020 shows what influence such EU projects can have: Three German researchers were honored for their participation in the EUV exposure technology, which is used today in the most modern exposure machines.

The complete list of the 14 funded projects is:

  • AI4CSM– Intelligent electronic systems for automated vehicles and sustainable mobility concepts
  • AI-TWILIGHT – AI-supported digital twins for lighting infrastructure in Industry 4.0
  • DAIS– Electronic systems for artificial intelligence in edge computing
  • Energy ECS– Microelectronics for intelligent and energy-efficient mobility of tomorrow
  • GaN4AP – Gallium nitride for advanced power electronics
  • HiEFFICIENT– Modular, intelligent and highly integrated wide-bandgap power electronics for safe and energy-efficient electric driving
  • ID2PPAC – Manufacturing technologies and processes for high-performance 2-nm electronics
  • IMOCO4.E – Electronic systems for intelligent motion control in Industry 4.0
  • MATQU – Materials for quantum computing
  • StorAIge– Embedded data storage for microcontrollers with artificial intelligence
  • TRANSACT– Trusted decentralized cyber-physical systems (CPS) for security-critical applications
  • TRANSFORM– Trusted European SiC supply chain for energy efficient power electronics
  • YESvGaN– New process technology for highly efficient and versatile power transistors

The ECSEL initiative and the overarching EU program Horizon 2020 are almost over. Horizon Europe should continue from the beginning of 2021.


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