Paul van Gerven
1 August 2023

While the editors were away on holiday, the European Chips Act was officially adopted, Quix Quantum appointed a CFO, solar foil startup Enfoil emerged in Flanders, NXP reported Q2 results, concerns were raised about China’s push into mature semiconductors and ASML hired 100 researchers from Philips.

Having been given the go-ahead from the European Council, the European Chips Act will soon be officially signed into law. First outlined in February 2022 by the European Commission, the legislation mobilizes up to 43 billion euros in public and private investments (including 3.3 billion from the EU’s budget) with the aim of doubling Europe’s market share in the global semiconductor industry to 20 percent by 2030. Ahead of the final approval, several projects have already been announced, including a leading-edge fab in Magdeburg, Germany, along with a packaging facility in Wrocław, Poland, an FDSOI facility in Crolles, France, and a power semiconductor plant in Dresden, Germany. Broadcom has pledged a 1 billion dollar investment in Spain backed by the EU Chips Act.

Quantum hopeful Quix Quantum has appointed Kathy Willing as CFO. Experienced in complex business projects in multiple industries, including M&As, strategic exits and fundraising, Willing joins the Enschede-headquartered company “in time for organizational and financial growth”, a press release states. Quix is building the first Universal Quantum Computer based on photonics in Europe for the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

Quix management team
From left to right, Quix’s leadership team is composed of CEO Stefan Hengesbach, CTO Devin Smith, CFO Kathy Willing and Chief Scientist Jelmer Renema.

Hasselt University and Imec have started a spin-off to capitalize on years of thin-film solar cell research. Enfoil focuses on CIGS-based, flexible and lightweight solar foils that can be integrated with many more surface types than the roofs of buildings. To cast as wide a net a possible, Enfoil is betting on ‘mass-customization’: the ability to manufacture custom foils in a wide range of sizes and shapes, but at a large scale. The startup says it’s already engaging with industry leaders to produce solar products for truck rooftops.

NXP continues to cruise relatively unscathed through the semiconductor downturn, reporting better-than-expected revenue for the second quarter. Growing electrification and chip content of cars are still boosting automotive sales, partially offsetting declines in consumer-exposed businesses. At mid-point, the chip maker is forecasting a 3 percent sequential revenue increase for Q3.

BCe24 save the date

The global market share of Chinese foundries in terms of 12-inch wafer production capacity could rise from 24 percent in 2022 to as high as 28 percent in 2026, Trendforce predicts. Even in a worst-case scenario, in which Western export controls heavily limit access to manufacturing equipment, the market share will grow to 26 percent. The majority of Chinese foundries have been focusing on 45-28nm processes, while current export restrictions are aimed at limiting China’s capabilities in advanced nodes.

Trendforce China foundry

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that US and European officials are increasingly concerned about China’s push into the mature nodes. They fear heavily-subsidized Chinese companies will drive Western companies out of business like they previously did in the solar industry, leaving the US and Europe dependent on China for the simple, but essential components used in all electronic devices. Because of economic and national security risks, Western countries have been investing billions to reduce such dependencies. “The amount of money that China is pouring into subsidizing what will be an excess capacity of mature chips and legacy chips — that’s a problem that we need to be thinking about and working with our allies to get ahead of,” said US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during a panel discussion.

Finally, ASML will hire 100 researchers from Philips Engineering Solutions. “We’ve worked with this group for a long time and we’re happy to have them as colleagues now,” an ASML spokesperson told Reuters. Faced with major losses over the past years, Philips has announced a major reorganization, which includes thousands of layoffs. Research and development haven’t been spared, with 700-750 jobs being cut in Best and Eindhoven.