Make EU Participation Simpler
SEMI Europe announced that it has submitted formal feedback to the Committee of the Regions (CoR) on the issue of simplifying the implementation of the EU Research Framework Programme (FP). The EC requested feedback from key stakeholders as it works to simplify the FP process. Europe has many small and medium enterprises (SMEs), typical in the semiconductor and photovoltaic equipment and material supply chain, which have limited resources without dedicated administrative staffs to manage complex submittal processes. "SEMI members, which are 90 percent small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), require less bureaucracy to apply for EU funding. We need a program where good ideas can be suggested more frequently and which allows us to work with customers who are not located in Europe," comments Carlos Lee, director general of SEMI Europe. SEMI actively participated at a hearing on September 27 in Brussels where it advocated for a less bureaucratic approach and these FP changes: 1. Improve the process: Some of the procedural steps are too time-consuming. In addition, generic email addresses are inadequate for communication. SEMI also requests the implementation of a "single audit approach" performed by a single entity. 2. Speed up the procedure; support a two-step process: SEMI proposes a two-step process with a concise project outline and a full proposal upon positive feedback. It is not competitive to wait for more than a year to start a project which is ready to go. 3. Better pre-financing the project: Companies may need to borrow money to pre-finance their projects for six months or longer because EU money is delayed. This is an entry barrier especially for SMEs which cannot afford the very expensive machine investments needed for a project. 4. Eliminate double application: Currently, applicants may have to submit two proposals: one for the EU and another for the national authority. A central authority and a unique document would be more efficient. 5. Encourage European cross-border funding: Small Member States are compared to large Member States so they sometimes simply work with partners outside of Europe. SEMI Europe urged the EC to rebuild the next FP to cope with future challenges, accelerated approvals, streamlined requirements, and improved cross-border funding. Cooperation with other countries outside Europe should be encouraged. Suppliers need to work with their customers who are often based out of the EU; the FP should enable them to work together. The Framework Programme can stimulate the future of the European innovation. Early this year, as part of the SEMI Brussels Forum, SEMI strongly advocated on funding schemes for nanoelectronics and semiconductor R&D in Europe, "...at a global level, Europe has to facilitate the cooperation between centres of excellence located in different European Member States. This cannot be achieved without efficient European Funding for Cross-Border Cooperation."