The French government has launched the Nano 2017 R&D initiative, backing it with a EUR 3.5 billion investment budget. Les Echos reports that prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced the plan flanked by the ministers of industry, digital economy, and higher education and research. It will enable European nanotech companies, notably STMicroelectronics, to take the next technology leap to remain competitive on a world stage.
The state plans to invest EUR 600 million in the programme which falls under the European Commission's 'Airbus of Chips' EUR 10 billion, 7-year initiative to double the region's production of lower-cost, smarter chips. ST, Grenoble's Leti institute and IBM will collaborate on nanotech research. ST will invest EUR 1.3 billion to double the capacity of its fab in Crolles to 7,000 silicon wafers a week.
The new public-private investment programme follows up on the 'Nano 2012' scheme launched in April 2009 by the previous government with a EUR 2.3 billion budget, plus EUR 1 billion in capital investment by ST. Trade union CGT says that only around 100 jobs were created in the first phase of the programme, compared to 600 promised.