Fraunhofer to join forces with Taiwan’s chip experts

August 2, 2023 | Delegation trip with great mutual interest

A successful start: In February 2023, a a German delegation consisting of 22 members visited Taiwan's leading universities and research institutes to explore opportunities to cooperate in the fields of microelectronics and hydrogen. Representatives of Fraunhofer IIS and the Research Fab Microelectronics Germany (FMD for its acronym in German) identified promising and extensive potential for intensifying cooperation in the future, for instance in chip design.

According to Prof. Albert Heuberger, Director of Fraunhofer IIS, “As a world leader in the field of microelectronics, Taiwan relies on and promotes a system of science parks, which are a concentration of universities, startups, companies and research institutes. We can learn quite a bit from this successful coupling of industry and research.”

The National Science and Technology Council Taiwan (NSTC) together with the Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF for its acronym in German) arranged a delegation visit to Taiwan in February 2023. The 22-member delegation consisted of BMBF representatives for education and training, lifelong learning, hydrogen and microelectronics.

For the microelectronics issue, the delegation consisted of Dr. Roland Krüppel (BMBF), Prof. Ulf Schlichtmann (Technical University of Munich), Prof. Albert Heuberger (Fraunhofer IIS, Research Fab Microelectronics Germany (FMD)), Dr. Thorsten Edelhäußer (Fraunhofer IIS) and Dr. Andreas Grimm (FMD).

A first glimpse into research and industry in Taiwan

This fact-finding mission sought to learn about Taiwan’s research and industry ecosystem in the field of microelectronics and to identify recommendations for action for the BMBF, in particular regarding the training and continuing education of specialists. Emphasis was placed on chip design, edge AI computing, 6G communication as well as 3D IC and heterogeneous integration.

The delegation visited the National Taiwan University (NTU), the National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) and the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) as well as the Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute (TSRI) and the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).

These visits revealed that Taiwan’s universities work closely with industry partners to train Skilled workers for the local semiconductor and chip design industry. Here,  the industry contributes significantly to the funding for university education. In the specific case of the above-mentioned research institutes, the TSRI supports university research in the field of semiconductors, while the ITRI conducts applied research modeled after Fraunhofer.

Promising and extensive potential for future collaboration

Prof. Heuberger summed up the visit by saying, “We can learn a great deal from Taiwan, and we are delighted about their great interest in cooperating with German partners. There are plenty fields in which this might happen. A strategic cooperation in the field of chip design is possible and desirable.”

Furthermore, the Taiwanese side expressed interest in cooperation in the fields of microelectronics as well as in training and continuing education especially in student exchanges.. Not least, both partners emphasized that their shared democratic values constituted a good basis for collaboration.

Following the visit, the BMBF will evaluate cooperation opportunities, e.g. as part of a funding program with Taiwan. Simultaneously, the exchange of ideas on several levels will further be continued in order to further deepen the topics for cooperation.

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