Imec raises 2.5 billion euros for test line for advanced chips

Imec raises 2.5 billion euros for test line for advanced chips

Belgium’s imec says it is raising 2.5 billion euros to set up a new chip line. The research center says the line will focus on advanced chip technology and systems-on-chip.

Imec announces it is setting up a NanoIC pilot line. Through that line, research can be conducted on advanced chip technology and systems-on-chip. The research is done in collaboration with companies from the tech and automotive industries, telecommunications and healthcare. The pilot line gives these companies a chance to test out the latest chip technologies on a small scale. Later, the results can be used for mass production of next-generation products.

Luc Van den hove, CEO of imec, indicates that such developments and investments are necessary for the company to remain a leader in future chip technology and to give Europe a better position in the industry.

Substantial expansion

To accommodate the developments, imec’s current building appears to be becoming too cramped. Van den hove reveals plans for an expansion of 10,000 square meters. This will take place in two phases. A new cleanroom of 6,000 square meters will be built as an extension of the already existing pilot line facilities at imec. An image of how this new cleanroom will take shape is included as the opening image of this article. Plans for a second 4,000-square-meter expansion are still in development.


Rendering of the inside of the new cleanroom. Image: imec.

Multiple funding streams

The necessary amount of money, which totals 2.5 billion euros, will partly come from the European Chips Act funding. The pilot line at imec is one of a total of four investments Europe is making in strategic pilot lines. The research center does say it will contribute to pilot lines for low-power FD-SOI and heterogeneous systems integration, but these will be located in France and Germany, respectively.

The Belgian company, based in Leuven, can also count on support from the Flemish government. Finally, the Dutch company ASML is investing as imec’s industrial partner from the chip industry. Imec indicates that there are more partners that will invest but does not mention any other names.

The Belgian chip industry player announced this new R&D project during the Imec Technology Forum (ITF World). Several industrial partners of imec can be heard on May 21 and 22 during this annual event. For ASML, an old acquaintance will appear on stage. Martin van den Brink, who left the company and his role as CTO earlier this year, will speak.

Van den hove, CEO of imec, thanks the parties that invest during the event. He added: “The investment will allow us to accelerate our pace of innovation, strengthen the European chip ecosystem and stimulate economic growth in Europe and Flanders.”

Tip: ASML: from a leaky shed to the chip industry’s key player