’Chips from Finland’ Initiative: The World is Fighting for Microchips – Finland Can Become Top in Europe

While the world’s superpowers are fighting for domination over microchips, Finland has excellent chances to become the top in European microchip expertise. To this end, the Semiconductors branch group Technology Industries of Finland, other corporate partners, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Tampere University and Aalto University together with the cities of Tampere and Espoo are proposing a national microchip programme in Finland.
A boy and a man taking a cell phone image in fron of Nokia Arena.
Microchips are used for example in many consumer devices, such as cell phones.

The ‘Chips from Finland’ (Siruja Suomesta) initiative aims to build a European ecosystem of semiconductor and quantum industry in Finland based on the special expertise of companies and researchers in the field. This will bring fresh expertise and growth to Finland and strengthen microchip self-sufficiency and technological sovereignty in Europe. 
– Finland needs a comprehensive microchip strategy to make the most of European investments. We have an excellent opportunity to form a European ecosystem of microchip expertise, as Finland is one of EU’s top experts in designing system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions for mobile communication networks and a pioneer in special processes in microelectronics. We also have top-notch expertise in quantum technology and integrated photonics. By concentrating on these strengths, we can create powerful growth within high technology expertise, innovation, and industry in Finland, says Mayor of Tampere Anna-Kaisa Ikonen
Finnish microchip expertise is already used in Europe’s most advanced SoCs. 
– In the past few years, we have strengthened our technological leadership in 5G mobile networks with the help of ReefShark SoCs designed in Finland. Very strong growth is on the horizon in the number of 5G network users and the volume of transferred data globally. We have also already begun developing the next generation of 6G and AI circuits in Finland. Joining forces to develop this field in Finland is highly important. The ‘Chips from Finland’ initiative will attract investors to Finland to develop microchip technology while offering students plenty of good opportunities to advance in the field. A centre of expertise spanning Espoo, Tampere and Oulu and geared towards developing European 6G and Edge technologies is needed to support the strong cooperation between academic researchers and businesses, says Nokia Vice President Veijo Kontas
The teeny-tiny microchips are important in all aspects of everyday life and in all fields. They are used in mobile phones, mobile communication networks and cars, for example, as well as in high tech safety and security devices.  
Microchips are a burning issue and a booming business measured in the hundreds of billions. USA and China are fighting for dominance over microchips, and spurred on by the shortage of chips the European Union has created its own Chips Act to ensure the union’s digital sovereignty. Its objective is to strengthen chip design, production and packaging in Europe. As a result, centres of expertise in chip technology and pilot environments are to be established in EU member states and investments are to be accelerated with 43 billion euros.  
– Ensuring Finland’s strong position in implementing the Chips Act and securing EU funding will require efficient cooperation on a national level and collaboration between research and business, as well as national commitment and a financial appropriation. The benefits to be gained are significant, as the semiconductor industry is business worth 600 billion euros worldwide. It could grow into an industry worth several billions in Finland, too, and employ thousands of highly paid top experts, says Mayor of Espoo Jukka Mäkelä

‘Chips from Finland’ Proposals for Action 

1. Strengthen chip expertise and co-creation by forming a national networked c chip competence center. The core will be formed by Tampere University’s SoC Hub and Aalto University’s circuit design unit with Nokia already closely involved with both. The centre will support companies using chips now and in the future in developing their expertise, and it will assist ecosystem projects where chip technologies (such as RISC-V) are utilised in digitalising industry and other fields towards carbon neutral processes.   
Why? Design is both the most economically profitable and the most knowledge  intensive part of  chips value chain. It enables development of chips that provide a competitive edge for products in different fields, which increases demand for the chips. The shortage of top expertise in chip design is one of EU’s strategic weaknesses, while Finnish universities and companies alike have been developing microchips for mobile phones and data communication networks since the beginning of the nineties. 
2. Provide growth opportunities for companies in the semiconductor industry by investing in mutually complementary pilot environments.  

‘Kvanttinova’, a co-creation-based environment for piloting microelectronics and quantum technology, would augment the existing cleanroom infrastructure for microelectronics research, ‘Micronova’, located in Otaniemi, Espoo. It focuses on special processes in microelectronics and quantum technologies, in which Finland is a strong pioneer both in Europe and globally. 

SIPFAB, a chip and system in a package (SiP) pilot environment to be situated in Hervanta, Tampere, would be a place to develop and test photonic chips based on III-V elements in cooperation with companies. The pilot line would consist of equipment needed to physically combine different kinds of chips as well as tools to enable the co-design of microelectronic systems.  

Why? Creating complex systems requires stepping into the next generation of chip manufacturing involving diverse expertise. Agile chip design and prototype production on a pilot scale generates expertise that can attract  chip fabrication investments of an industrial scale to Finland. Pilot lines enable the development of product innovations based on new materials and upscaling SMEs’ innovations and products into industrial operations. This approach is new in Europe, and especially product innovations will be a way to ensure Finland’s strong position in increasing Europe’s level of chip sovereignty. 
Integrated national service chain for companies 

– The ‘Chips from Finland’ initiative meets the industry’s burning need to increase expertise and development capacity within chip technology. At the same time, it creates continuous competence and opportunities in the areas of future chip technology, such as MEMS sensors, RF technologies, integrated photonics, quantum technology and SiPs. This will open completely new avenues of investment and business to Finland, says CEO of VTT Antti Vasara
– With the help of these facilities we can offer companies an integrated set of national services for developing and using chips. By developing integrated services, Finnish operators can efficiently connect to the core European chip development network and take an active role in strengthening Europe’s position, says President of Tampere University Mari Walls

Further information

Pauli Kuosmanen
Research and Innovation services at Tampere University, Director
+358 50 304 5934
Erja Turunen
Digital technologies at VTT, Executive Vice President
+358 50 380 9671
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