By Guest Blogger Brendan Fay (IDA ICT Division)
As Ireland celebrates National Microelectronics Week, it is opportune to look back over the past year, a year which has been positive in terms of semiconductor and microelectronics investment and activity.
For example, Qualcomm announced in September the establishment of a new Global Technology Delivery Centre in Cork. Meanwhile Huawei, Hittite Microwave and u-blox also established new R&D centres.
Qualcomm, Huawei and Hittite Microwave join companies such as Intel, Analog Devices, Microsemi, ON Semiconductor, Maxim Integrated, Cadence, Xilinx, Altera and M/A COM Technologies, which have significant strategic operations in Ireland.
For instance, Analog Devices has over 1,000 people at its manufacturing, distribution, sales/marketing and R&D operation in Limerick.
New investment and ongoing activity reflects corporate confidence in Ireland as a supportive and successful location for the international activities of global corporations.
One recent example of such success is Intel’s new Galileo development board, containing the Quark SoC X1000 chip, which, with the support of IDA Ireland, was developed from inception at the company’s plant in Kildare. The new chip will enable a range of low power devices in wearable technology and the Internet of Things.
While the track record of companies is an important factor in influencing investments, the availability of suitably qualified talent, a strong publicly funded research base and a favourable corporate tax structure are also influencing factors.
Ireland’s talent availability is often cited by companies as a core reason for new investment.
Ireland currently has in place a National ICT Skills programme, which is helping to increase the supply of electronic engineering talent. For example, graduate output from masters degree electronic engineering programmes in 2013 is estimated by the HEA (Higher Education Authority) to be up by circa 60% on 2008 and is projected to increase by over 160% by 2018.
The country’s low 12.5% corporate tax rate, 25% R&D tax credit and IDA Ireland’s grant support are also factors that influence investment decisions.
Ireland has some of the most progressive research institutions to support semiconductor corporate R&D programmes; the institutions include the Tyndall National Institute, with over 460 researchers and support staff, CRANN (Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructure & Nanodevices), with over 300 researchers, MCCI (Microelectronics Circuits Centre Ireland) and CCAN (Collaborative Centre for Applied Nanotechnology).
Some world leading technologies are being developed at the aforementioned research centres.
Technologies include the development in Tyndall of the world’s first junctionless transistor, which will help facilitate increased miniaturization of electronic devices. CRANN have also discovered a new material that could transform the quality, lifespan and efficiency of flat screen computers and televisions.
MCCI is currently developing the world’s first skin cancer-detecting single chip phased-array radiometer, which may be developed into a handheld device that could be used in doctors’ surgeries.
Ireland has much to offer global semiconductor and microelectronics corporations. The success of the existing corporate base and ongoing greenfield investment is testimony to the confidence that currently prevails in the country’s semiconductor/microelectronics industry.
November 6, 2013