Competence hubs: Micro/nanoelectronics and Integrated circuits and systems

Workshop at the Nordic Forum

I have previously posted a concern about, for example, why so many students are not studying electronics. Why isn’t it interesting? What are we doing wrong? Similarly, the trend where fewer and fewer companies working with “core electronics” (you know what I mean) is still going strong.

Competence Hubs

Anyways, the short story: Vinnova, Sweden’s Innovation Agency, gave us a grant this Spring to investigate the possibility to form a competence centre within the topic “Micro/Nanoelectronics” or similar. Adopting the EU list of key enabling technologies (KET), Vinnova appointed a set of competence hubs to cover fields like “printed electronics”, “embedded systems”, “photonics”, and “power electronics”, and many others. The hubs were then given the task to scan Sweden and look for knowledge gaps, missing links in the value chain, activities and potential new activities within the field of the hub.

Our group at Linköping university got a hub together with Mid-Sweden University. We will focus a bit more on the ASIC-side, integrated electronics. Mid-Sweden University will cover electronics for sensors, sensors, and nanoelectronics. Mid-Sweden University will also take the role as coordinator of the two hubs.

2015-10-20 10.26.32
Prof. Jan Y Andersson (Mid-Sweden University) informing about the micro-nano electronics area referring to the “More-than-Moore” and “more-Moore” concepts. Prof. Christer Fröjdh (also Mid-Sweden University) preparing to give a presentation on key enabling technologies and cooperation concepts between industry and academia.

Nordic Forum, October 2015-10-20

We met yesterday at the Nordic Forum in the melting pot of electronics in Sweden (Kista). Roughly 40 people from most corners of Sweden (not Öland, my home island though — wonder why …). We first gave presentations on the objectives of the competence hubs and potential tasks for a future competence center. The competence center does not necessarily need to be a physical location, even though it needs to be a single coordinator in the center.

We had a set of workshops with the attendees and there were nice discussions and a few faces from my older days in industry. We discussed if a competence center is required, what it should do, what the benefits could be for the SME’s, how a 10-year plan (!) should be maintained given that that is a veeery long time for a start-up (or any enterprise for that matter).

We will compile the material in more detail. One of the deliverables from us, as a competence hub, is a detailed, written report to Vinnova in May 2016. We will intermediately compile comments, findings, and news and send out to the interested parties and stakeholders as well as publish on social media (like this one …)

Some comments

Some personal scattered comments from the workshop.

First, I have to thank Jan-Erik Lennefalk, a nestor in the industry and a colleague from Sicon, for a great idiom – which I haven’t heard before:

“Som de andra har jag gjort min elektroniska värnplikt.” or
“Like the others I’ve done my electronic conscription.”

Simply meaning that you have worked for Ericsson for a while. Or as someone said: “It was much easier before, then everything was about communication circuits and what was good for Ericsson was good for Sweden.”.

It was in general a good spirit in the meeting, I believe – possible due to the free lunch (there is no such thing as a free lunch, since we also harvested information from the attendees that we will use – almost like Facebook) as also some of the others met with previous colleagues and acquaintances.

SME’s find it difficult, with all right, to commit for longer periods of time. They need the instant benefits: what’s in it for me? what’s the added value? A coordinating role for the competence center could provide information on how to e.g. share lab resources, equipment, etc., for the SMEs.

The perhaps obvious by now: many saw a lack of resources in Sweden: lack of new engineers coming out and also the observation that even though some companies fold, quite a few of the engineers find job very soon after, implying a demand… still.

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