Thu, Oct 21, 2010 - Page 12 News List

Imec establishing R&D center for nanotechnology

By Jason Tan  /  Staff reporter

Belgium-based Imec, the world’s largest non-profit research institution focusing on nanotechnology, said yesterday it would invest NT$150 million (US$4.7 million) in Taiwan by setting up its first research site outside of Europe.

Imec Taiwan Innovation Center (ITIC) will hire more than 40 Taiwanese researchers over the next three years to conduct nanotechnology research that could be applied into information technology, green energy and biomedical fields, Imec CEO and president Luc Van den hove told reporters in Taipei.

The company picked Taiwan over China for the R&D center because “we have a long relationship with Taiwanese companies. Taiwan is a leading country in the technology domain.”

Imec was set up in 1984 in Leuven and employs about 1,800 workers of 60 nationalities across the globe. It was involved in the milestone development of 8-inch and 12-inch technology nodes of semiconductors.

It then transferred the technologies to a number of Taiwanese customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (日月光) and MediaTek Inc (聯發科).

Imec set up a representative office in January 2008 in the Hsinchu Science Park to service Taiwanese customers, but the establishment of ITIC will help facilitate the exchange of researchers between Imec and these firms, Imec Taiwan general manager Wu Hsiang-wei (吳祥偉) said.

TSMC and Powerchip Technology Corp (力晶科技), for instance, have sent researchers to Imec for five or 10-year projects, he said.

Taiwanese firms could save on costs by utilizing local resources from ITIC, and small and medium-sized businesses that couldn’t afford such costs in the past could take advantage of this, Wu said.

Wu Ming-chi (吳明機), director of the Ministry of Economic Affairs industrial technology department, compared Imec to Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (工研院).

“Basing Imec’s R&D center here will be a landmark for Taiwan. European firms have innovation, while Taiwan has the commercialization and production capabilities. Both are complementary,” Wu Ming-chi said.

The establishment of ITIC followed the announcement on Sept. 21, where 27 foreign firms — including Imec, Hewlett-Packard Co and Qualcomm Inc — signed letters of intent with the ministry to invest a total of NT$108.25 billion in Taiwan in the wake of the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China in June.

These investments are expected to help generate 12,900 jobs in the electronics, chemical and electrical vehicle sector.

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