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Minister of Economy Pledges Support for an Ambitious Microchip Laboratory in RTU

23rd of February
Rector of RTU Tālis Juhna (from left) and Minister of Economy Viktors Valainis. Photo: Vitālijs Vinogradovs, RTU

The Ministry of Economics is ready to take responsibility for the further progress of the ambitious project, which envisages the establishment of a microchip competence centre, design and testing laboratory at Riga Technical University (RTU), and for finding the necessary source of funding - either in the form of reallocation of EU funds or state budget investments.

«This is a unique opportunity for Latvia to join the global chip manufacturing chain and a significant step towards our country becoming a global technology leader. There is no doubt that the country must join in and do everything possible to make this project a success,» said Viktors Valainis, Minister of Economy.

In a meeting with RTU management, he discussed issues related to the potential establishment of a laboratory at RTU, as well as RTU's involvement in achieving the human capital goals set by the Ministry of Economy.

The requirement for a centre of excellence for chips in each Member State is laid down in the EU's Microchip Act, adopted last September, the main aim of which is to ensure the EU's sovereignty and largely self-sufficiency in the semiconductor market. RTU, in cooperation with the Institute of Electronics and Computer Science and the Institute of Solid State Physics, has now taken the lead in coordinating the semiconductor ecosystem, has made the necessary preparations and has entered into cooperation negotiations with leading European and global players in this field. The global scientific and business community has been stimulated by the achievements of RTU scientists in the development of silicon photonics chips, including several world records in Data Centre Interconnect technologies.

As RTU representatives told the Minister of Economy, the plan is not only to establish a semiconductor competence centre in line with EU regulation requirements, but to go one step further and set up a chip design and testing laboratory under the wing of RTU. This would then serve chip manufacturers - both global and local, once they are established. It is the design and testing stage of the chip value chain that currently accounts for the bulk of turnover, and Latvia has unique advantages in this area compared to its nearest neighbours - competent specialists and prepared technologies. However, the establishment of the laboratory requires a national investment of around €45 million over the next four years.

Latvia's opportunities and potential to enter the global semiconductor value chain and their impact on the Latvian economy have been assessed in the study «Development of semiconductor technologies and applications in Latvia» conducted by RTU and the Institute of Solid State Physics of the University of Latvia. It also develops proposals for the development of the research, education and innovation and business environment.

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23rd of February at 12:53

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