VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the City of Espoo, Aalto University and the industry members of the semiconductor industry group of Technology Industries of Finland want to jointly build an RDI centre based on the open development of microelectronics and quantum technology. The actors have launched a project that supports the objective. It aims to build a unique pilot environment focusing on pre-commercial development in Espoo, Finland. Europe’s sustainable growth and technological sovereignty require investments in areas of expertise in which Europe has special top expertise and competitive advantage.
The piloting environment to be built expands the already existing world-class research infrastructure located in Espoo and promotes Finland's position as one of the most important hubs of microelectronics and quantum technology in the EU. The purpose of the planned development environment is to further increase the sector's RDI activities in Finland, increase product and service exports, and attract new international experts, companies and investments.
The pilot environment construction project is in its start-up phase and its total budget is estimated at EUR 90 million. According to current estimates, approximately half of the project funding would be public funding, for example in the form of funding applied through the European Chips Act. Public funding would cover investments in equipment for shared use, for instance. In the semiconductor industry and microelectronics, investment costs are high, which challenges the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and the creation of new ones. Shared cleanrooms and equipment enable companies to allocate their own investments to activities that best support their objectives.
"Finland's strength in quantum technologies and microelectronics is based on open long-term co-creation carried out by VTT, Aalto University and companies in the Micronova cleanroom environment in Otaniemi, Espoo. We want to further strengthen Finland's capabilities in open technology development and build new cleanroom facilities that enable industrial scale scaling, as well as an ecosystem that aims at growth and the creation of new high-growth companies," says Erja Turunen, Executive Vice President of Digital technologies at VTT.
"Investing in Otaniemi’s new RDI hub that focuses on quantum technologies and microelectronics will improve Finland’s and Europe’s chances to succeed in the global competition," says Mervi Heinaro, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Sports and Culture. "The new hub will help businesses launch innovations into the market and increase Finland’s technological self-sufficiency in a critical sector. Finland can only succeed by focusing on top-level expertise and the resulting growth."
More power for the quantum technology development
The speed of development of quantum technologies is enormous, and the upcoming quantum revolution will challenge the development of all sectors. Finland already has a strong ecosystem built around quantum technology expertise, in which quantum computing and software as well as quantum technologies are developed. Quantum technology is based on microelectronics, so the same cleanroom environment accelerates the growth of the Finnish quantum and microelectronics ecosystems. Finland has the potential to create Europe's leading business cluster of quantum technologies.
"We want the new piloting environment to serve the development of different quantum technologies in a versatile manner and enable innovation in new technologies and their further development. The aim is to build an attractive development environment that also attracts international quantum experts and companies to Finland," says Janne Laine, Vice President of Innovation at Aalto University.
Finland already has pioneering companies, such as IQM, whose quantum technology has developed in the Espoo ecosystem in co-operation with Aalto and VTT.
"Infrastructure investments are critical to the long-term success of quantum technologies, and to strengthen Finland and Europe’s leadership position on cutting edge technology development. This new initiative will definitely accelerate new knowledge creation, attract experts in foundries and create manufacturing jobs to Finland. With our hardware and fabrication facilities investments, VTT’s and Aalto University’s jointly run Micronova facility and also this new initiative, we will be able to stay at the forefront of the field," said Dr. Juha Vartiainen, COO and Co-founder of IQM Quantum Computers.
Investment strengthens expertise in microelectronics and strategic autonomy of critical technology
Both EU and the United States chip acts aim to decrease dependencies from global value chains. The European Chips Act aims to double the European market share to 20 per cent by 2030. This requires both new deep technology investments and increased manufacturing capacity. Currently, the majority of microchips in the world are manufactured using CMOS technology. However, Finland is a pioneer in special microelectronics processes such as integrated photonics, MEMS sensors, radio frequency communications, silicon-based detectors and quantum technology. The added value of these technologies comes from completely new functionalities that cannot be implemented with CMOS technology. The Finnish semiconductor industry currently employs around 5,000 people in Finland and is worth just under two billion euros.
"About 80 per cent of companies in the Finnish semiconductor and microelectronics industry base their products on specialised technology. New microelectronics companies based on deep technologies are constantly emerging in Finland. They demonstrate strong science-based production. The new piloting environment enables the scalability and growth of companies in Finland," says Tomy Runne, Chair of the semiconductor industry group of Technology Industries of Finland.
"Vaisala products are based on specialised MEMS microelectronics solutions. The renewal of the ecosystem and the education of new talents are important to our company. We believe that the piloting environment supports these goals and the growth of the microelectronics sector in Finland," says Kai Öistämö, President and CEO of Vaisala.
More information on the semiconductor industry group of Technology Industries of Finland: The group began its activities as a Technology Industries of Finland industry group in 2022. The aim of the group is to ensure and increase Finland's competitiveness, improve Finnish semiconductor and microelectronics expertise, and influence society as part of Technology Industries of Finland. The members of the industry group are: Aspocomp, Beneq, CoreHw, Huawei, Modulight, Murata Electronics Oy, Okmetic, Picosun and Vaisala. The group is chaired by Tomy Runne, Managing Director of Murata Electronics Oy.