AutoRevista.- How did the idea of creating the semiconductor CITT come about and what are its objectives in the short and medium term?
Daniel Granados.- The Semiconductor CITT began to take shape in an informal conversation in light of the announcement of the European Chip-Act, announced in February 2022. In March of that same year, the Government announced that there would be a PERTE-CHIP, at which time the General Director of Research and Technological Innovation of the Community of Madrid, Ana Cremades, began to have meetings bilateral meetings with different industries and players from different sectors to understand what they could offer and what their challenges were in the semiconductor and microelectronics industry.
As a result of these meetings, in which I would also like to highlight the contribution of Vicente Parras, Department of Research and Technological Innovation of the Community of Madrid, and with the help of Begoña Cristeto, KPMG's Automotive consulting partner, and from this consultancy, capacities were mapped and we saw that Madrid had the potential to become an international node in the sector. From there the CITT in Semiconductors arose.
Its main objective is to position Madrid as an international node of the Chip industry, and to recover a large part of the technological capabilities that we had in the past. The CITT-Semic mission is oriented towards creating a meeting place to help cluster members grow, innovate and access the necessary talent to be competitive at the best international level. The short-term strategy is to facilitate access to funds from the PERTE CHIP, but also to other PERTEs that are related to semiconductors, such as aerospace, agri-food and decarbonisation, to name a few.
The short-term strategy is to facilitate access to funds from the PERTE CHIP, but also to other PERTEs that are related to semiconductors
We seek to leverage both national and international investment, through the European Chip Act and attract private investment. Talent is key to the survival and growth of the Madrid ecosystem, and for this reason we count among the CITT members the Madrid public Universities, Vocational Training Centres, and some public research organisations such as CSIC centres and IMDEA foundations promoted by the Community of Madrid. We seek to generate new talent, but also retrain the workforce and, of course, attract talent from abroad, Spaniards who are abroad in large companies in the sector such as ASML or TSMC, and also foreign professionals who want to come to develop a professional career. in Madrid.
We seek to leverage both national and international investment, through the European Chip Act and attract private investment
AR.- It is a multi-sector cluster, but what weight and needs can be covered is there for the automotive industry?
D.G.- CITT-SEMIC is, without a doubt, the most multisectoral and although this makes its governance more complex, it is perhaps the one that can create the most synergies and disruptions. Thanks to the innovative ideas that can be created between industries and companies that hardly know each other, they can help each other a lot without interfering in their skills.
The automotive sector has been hit hard by the disruptions that have occurred in the global chip supply chain since the COVID19 pandemic, but also with the blockade of the Suez Canal and geopolitical instabilities (Sahel, invasion of Ukraine, China-US-Taiwan tensions, etc.). The automotive industry is a vital sector for Spain, and in the Community of Madrid it is a strategic sector.
At CITT we will seek to strengthen the presence of Bosch, Iveco and Stellantis, reinforcing their design and production capabilities and above all, guaranteeing access to talent, which is currently scarce and in high demand. Initiatives are being considered to improve microchip production capabilities, their encapsulation and testing. Also alliances for access to European producers. We have also come into contact with new companies in the sector that want to expand their capacities, or move from conflictive areas and have chosen the Community of Madrid for their new headquarters. We are in contact with TSMC, which wants to facilitate access to its design capabilities and will help us train engineers for the design of automotive-related chips, both for electrification and autonomous driving. We also continue working so that Madrid has a " foundry " of Chips, which would undoubtedly help companies in the sector a lot.
AR.- How is the cooperation expressed, with MCA, the automotive cluster of the Community of Madrid?
D.G.-The dialogue with MCA was one of the first we carried out. We had our first meeting with Elena Arroyo de Oñate, director of operations of MCA, and Alfredo Rozalén, its president, back in March 2022, long before CITT became a reality. Their support was instrumental in driving the CITT Semiconductor initiative forward. It is a priority sector and tractor that we must support, we were clear from the beginning. Since then, the relationship has evolved and we maintain closeness and constant contact. It is essential to be able to promote successful initiatives to know almost in real time what the needs of the automotive sector are and what difficulties they are encountering both in access to chips and talent.
It is essential to be able to promote successful initiatives to know almost in real time what the needs of the automotive sector are
AR.- Among the members, the presence of universities and technological centres is very considerable. What is the strategy to develop and attract talent in this specialty?
D.G.- The first thing is to carry out a good mapping, so that the partners get to know each other, and all of them are aware of what they can offer and what they demand, what their challenges and needs are. We have already begun to draw this capacity map. We are also in contact with AMETIC, which is carrying out its own mapping at the national level. With this, we are going to design new educational programs, both undergraduate and master's degrees, always with the connivance of the Ministry of Education and of course with the rectors of public universities and professional training centres. These programs will be aimed at developing new talent, but also at retraining existing ones. We also have Community of Madrid programs to attract talent from abroad, or train new industrial or research doctors, in collaboration with IMDEAs and other Public Research Organisations (OPIs) such as CIEMAT and the Institute of Micro and Nanotechnology of the CSIC. The best way to attract talent is to have a competitive ecosystem that is constantly growing and evolving. The rest, in a region like Madrid that is also connected to any corner of both Spain and the world, occurs naturally.
AR.- Can the cluster contribute in the long term to mitigate the effect of dependence on certain products from Asian countries?
D.G.- Definitely. CITT-Semic was created with a long-term vocation, which goes beyond the times set by the PERTE Chip or the European Chip Act. It is essential for the competitiveness of our national industries to reduce technological dependence on other countries, but we must bear in mind that we will not be able to do it alone, neither at a regional, national, nor European level. It is necessary to seek long-term strategic alliances that help us cover the extremely complex supply chain that surrounds the production of chips.
It is necessary to seek long-term strategic alliances that help us cover the extremely complex supply chain that surrounds the production of chips
AR.- What are the premises of the cluster when it comes to promoting open innovation and interaction with startups and spinoffs from the automotive sector or from other sectors?
D.G.- This aspect is going to be one of the great surprises of CITT-Semic. Since many of the industries, companies and research centres do not know each other, there is a significant disconnection. CITT will promote the connection between the actors, and as a result of the dialogue, the exchange of opinions, ideas, so that they understand the challenges and opportunities that each one of the actors has; I am sure that new ideas and opportunities will emerge.
Both the PERTEs and the Community of Madrid seek innovation and the creation of new startups in the sector, we are already in contact with newly created investment funds, especially in DeepTech, which were almost non-existent until now, but are beginning to emerge at the dawn of the Madrid ecosystem, and which, without a doubt, will help us a lot in promoting open innovation. We also have the support of the Madrid Institutes for Advanced Studies (IMDEA), which were created with the vocation of being a vehicle for connecting fundamental and excellent research carried out at the University or in the OPIs, and the industries. The truth is that we have everything to make the Community of Madrid a worldwide benchmark.
Read this interview in Spanish
Interview published in AutoRevista 2.377
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