As the whole world attempts to climb out of the economic hole it finds itself in, I’m curious about the different approaches being taken across the globe to stimulate the economy. Is it just me, or does it seem like while the U.S. has been embroiled in bail-out plans, everyone else (EU and Asia) is pouring money into collaborative R&D efforts, particularly in high tech areas – including 3D technologies?

I’ve been pondering why “they” do and “we” don’t for some time now – mostly since attending IMEC’s technology forum in Belgium and my Tour de France in 3D, where 3D research is readily funded, technology developments are ahead of where they are in the US, and start-ups in 3D are thriving. At RTI 3D Architectures for Semiconductor Integration and Packaging in early December, I asked some questions and got answers that offered some explanation.

According to Mark Scannell of CEA-Leti, in Europe, the current goal in technology developments is to push legacy fabs further to keep manufacturing on European soil. Scannell explained that when Leti applies for French government grants, it has to show that the outcome will create more jobs right in France. Regardless of whether a technology is targeted for commercial or government-focused end-use applications (military, aerospace, renewable energy, healthcare), government funds are available for start-ups that will bring jobs and revenue into the country. Seems reasonable to me.

Ziptronix CEO, Dan Donabedian offered this explanation for the lack of US investment in R&D for technology destined for the consumer markets. It used to be that military funding would trickle down to consumer electronics. But with military funding cuts, venture capital stepped in for funding such technology research. However, with the economic downturn, venture capital has dried up somewhat. With regard to the the US government organizations that do fund R&D projects, if it’s not military or energy related (DARPA, DoD, DoE) it’s not on the radar for funding opportunities. But that needs to change, notes Donabedian, if the US to keep up with other countries who are investing in consumer-driven technologies.
What do you think? Am I way off base here? Thoughts and explanations are welcome. – F.v.T.

Francoise von Trapp

They call me the “Queen of 3D” because I have been following the course of…

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