So hackneyed, so repeated and worn is the “new Silicon Valley” labelAt this point in the film it is hard to believe that there are regions capable of truly emulating the model of success achieved in Northern California. Candidates are not lacking. The tagline has been used for example for Bangalore, a powerful and populous technology hub in India. Also in France, where a thriving area in Paris-Saclay takes shape. There are even those who have started looking for candidates to follow the American model in Spain. At the risk of feeding the “Silicon fever”, in Saxony, Germany, an area that can well be considered in the wake of California has been curdling for years. So much, in fact, that she has self-baptized Silicon Saxony.
The German tech pole is going so hard that –according to the data handled by its own managers— one in three chips manufactured in Europe already bears the “Made in Saxony” seal. Just a few days ago even Financial Times echoed its aspirations to take advantage of the semiconductor crisis to establish itself as the major center for chip manufacturing in the EU. “Saxony will become one of the main and most advanced industrial and technological semiconductor centers in Europe”, highlighted just a month ago, during a visit to the pole, Thierry Breton, EU commissioner for the internal market.
Muscle is not lacking, of course. The Silicon Saxony association, founded in 2000, details that already integrates around 370 companies that employ 20,000 people and they invoice about 4,000 million euros per year. “The innovations, successful financing policies, profitable investments, the economic commitment of the member companies and a well structured network are the basis of our success “, highlights the German organization, which has among its main strengths having been able to ship to institutions and centers dedicated to research.
Some roots that reach the old GDR
“Since its founding, Silicon Saxony has been a self-funded association that brings together manufacturers, suppliers, service providers, universities, research institutes, public institutions and industry-relevant start-ups in Saxony and beyond.”
In the technological pole they operate Globalfoundries, Infineon o Bosch, multinationals at the helm of some of the largest and most modern semiconductor factories in the world. The business network is completed by firms specialized in nanoelectronics, organic electronics, 5G, tactile Internet, sensors and automation. According to Silicon Saxony calculations, the ICT value chain involves around 2,500 businesses with a workforce of around 70,500 employees.
“Companies, mainly small and medium-sized, benefit from the state’s strong academic environment”, Details the cluster, which recalls the dispersion of universities throughout the territory, many of them in applied sciences, and two branches linked to Max Planck. The map they provide shows three major poles of activity: the main one, in the vicinity of Dresden, and two others located in Chemnitiz and Leipzig, both located approximately one hour from the capital.
Although much of its development took place over the last two decades, Silicon Saxony’s roots go back to the second half of the 20th, in the 1960s, during the time of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), when began to develop in Karl-Marx-Stadt, today known as Chemnitz. The region became a technological benchmark due to the development of EDP technology and the first Robotron 300 mainframe, very successful in the GDR.
Just a few months ago, in early June, Bosch opened a new 72,000-square-meter semiconductor factory in Dresden after an investment of around one billion euros, which makes it one of the great projects in the history of the multinational. During his inauguration, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Robert Bosch, Volkmar Denner, highlighted that, “with the help of AI, we will take semiconductor manufacturing to the next level in Dresden”. In October the company had an impact in his plans to bet big on his new factory, referred to as your first AIoT plant. Only in 2022, coinciding with the crisis, the multinational plans to invest around 400 million euros in Dresden, Reutlingen and Penang, Malaysia.
It has not been the only great recent bet in German polo. As detailed ABC, other multinational firms, benchmarks in the sector, such as the photonics technology group Jenoptik, Vodafone, Intel or Infineon already have plans in place to install themselves or have at least shown interest. In less than two hours it also has the giant Tesla factory, located in Brandenburg.
Perhaps, after all, we can speak of an emerging Silicon Valley in Europe.
Cover image | Bosch