EU Chips Act funds new chip pilot line with €2.5 billion

Funding comes from EU programs, the Flanders government, and industry players.

EU Chips Act

Leading European research labs will receive €2.5 billion under the European Chips Act to establish a pilot line for developing and testing future generations of advanced computer chips, according to Belgium’s IMEC. The initiative is part of the EU’s €43 billion Chips Act, launched in 2023 to bolster domestic chipmaking in response to global shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pilot line, hosted by Leuven-based research hub IMEC, will focus on sub-2 nanometre chips. This facility aims to provide European industry, academia, and start-ups access to cutting-edge chip manufacturing technology, which would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. Top chipmakers like TSMC, Intel, and Samsung are already advancing 2-nanometre chips in commercial plants, costing up to €20 billion.

The European R&D line will be equipped with technology from European and global firms and is designed to support the development of even more advanced chips in the future. IMEC CEO Luc Van den Hove stated that this investment will double volumes and learning speed, enhancing the European chip ecosystem and driving economic growth across various industries, including automotive, telecommunications, and health.

Funding for this project includes €1.4 billion from several EU programs and the Flanders government, with an additional €1.1 billion from industry players, including equipment maker ASML. Other participating research labs include CEA-Leti from France, Fraunhofer from Germany, VTT from Finland, CSSNT from Romania, and the Tyndall Institute from Ireland. While aid under the EU plan has been slower than other regions, with only STMicroelectronics approved for €2.9 billion in aid from France, Intel and TSMC still await approval for substantial funding to build plants in Germany.