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French nanotechnology boosted by US and Japanese investment

More and more companies from the USA and Japan are investing and launching partnerships in France to take advantage of its cutting-edge nanotechnology expertise. Minalogic, in Grenoble, is among the fast-growing high-tech clusters that are at the forefront of micro-nanotechnology in France.

France boasts several high-tech clusters dedicated to advancing excellence in nanotechnology, including the SCS cluster in Sophia Antipolis, the Systematic cluster in the Paris region and, notably, Minalogic, the global micro-nanotechnology competitiveness cluster (or pôle de compétitivité) located in Grenoble (in south-eastern France).

This year, Minalogic is strengthening its leader status by investing €80 million in eight new collaborative projects focused on micro- and nanotechnologies for next-generation semiconductors and new manufacturing processes. Minalogic has recently welcomed Hewlett-Packard (HP) as its 50th partner. Starting in September 2007, HP will help cluster members save valuable amounts of time and money with access to highly advanced 2-TeraFlop data processors, called Virtual Nodes.

On the R&D side, CEA-Leti (France’s world-class nanotech laboratory) and leading Japanese lithography company Nikon have announced that they are joining forces to research Double Patterning and Double Exposure technology for 32nm semiconductor devices. “Leti offers an outstanding, state-of-the-art facility with all of the processes required for Double Patterning,” says Toshikazu Umatate, Executive Officer at Precision Equipment Company, part of Nikon Corporation. Another Japanese leader, Yamatake, is already working with Leti to develop nanotechnologies.

International companies looking to expand in nanotechnology are also choosing France for their European headquarters. California-based analogue semiconductor company Monolithic Power Systems, ranked as one of the fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley by Deloitte, has now opened its headquarters in Bernin-Crolles. Boc Edwards, part of the Linde Group, has also moved its European semiconductor business headquarters from London (in the UK) to Grenoble, in order to be closer to its electronics-sector customers and to recruit skilled talent in the region.

France’s expertise is expected to grow on the healthcare side of nanotechnologies following the recent announcement of the opening of Clinatec — an experimental nanotechnology-based neurosurgery clinic due to be set up in the next three years. The clinic will benefit from the work being carried out at Minatec, which is Europe’s largest research centre in micro-nanotechnologies.

Philip Jolly | alfa
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