EU okays $2 billion microelectronics project by France, Germany, Italy, UK

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - France, Germany, Italy and Britain secured EU approval on Tuesday to grant 1.75 billion euros ($2 billion) in state aid to a joint microelectronics project aimed at encouraging investments in internet-connected devices.

Twenty-nine companies and research bodies will take part in the project, among them Robert Bosch [ROBG.UL], Infineon IFXGn.DE, STMicroelectronics STM.BN, Osram OSRn.DE, Carl Zeiss [CZTOP.UL], GlobalFoundries and Murata.

The European Commission said the public support is expected to attract an additional 6 billion euros from private investors. The project is expected to be completed by 2024.

Microelectronics are small electronic components commonly known as chips and sensors and are found in telephones, computers, washing machines, cars and other electronics devices.

“Innovation in microelectronics can help the whole of Europe leap ahead in innovation,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

“That’s why it makes sense for European governments to come together to support such important projects of common European interest, if the market alone would not take the risk.”

The work will focus on energy efficient chips, power semiconductors, smart sensors, advanced optical equipment and compound materials.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by David Evans