“We are planning investments in Germany, and the European market is going to be ours,” Vincent Liu, president and chief executive of LCY Group, told the newspaper. The company supplies cleaning agents and solvents to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) — the world’s biggest contract chipmaker.
Alongside LCY Group, three more chemicals suppliers to TSMC said they’re eyeing investments in Europe.
The interest appears to be related to the emergence of the first advanced chip factories in the bloc — a move supported by the EU’s Chips Act, which aims to mobilise €43bn in public and private investments. Its aim is to ultimately bring the union’s share in global production capacity from 10% to 20% by 2030.
Under the scheme, the EU is offering subsidies to incentivise foreign chip manufacturers to set up factories within its borders. Intel, for example, has pledged to invest €30bn in two chip plants in Germany, while it’s planning to build a €4.6bn semiconductor assembly and testing facility in Poland.
Meanwhile, TSMC has teamed up with European chipmakers Infineon and NXP and auto supplier Bosh to build a €10bn chip plant in Germany. Multinational chipmaker GlobalFoundries and European chip company STMicroelectronics are also planning a €5.7bn factory in France.
“The global race for leadership in chips is a fact and Europe must secure her active part in it,” said Věra Jourová, the Commission’s VP for Values and Transparency, when the Chips Act came into force in September.
Establishing domestic production and strengthening the supply chain will indeed be critical for the EU’s aim to tackle its heavy reliance on a few foreign suppliers, China and Taiwan for manufacturing, and the US for design.
And while experts claim semiconductor independence is “impossible” for the EU (and for any other country for that matter), such investments would in all certainty help boost the bloc’s competitiveness in the sector.