GloFo pushes failed strategy
Globalfoundries’ boss Ajit Manocha has called for a revival of the failed 1990s strategy of funding inward investment of fabs in Europe.
“There’s no focus on manufacturing in Brussels,” says Manocha, who calls on Europe to “wake up”. He says that other countries offer more financial support. : “If I go to Asia, they will roll out the red carpet for us,” says Manocha.
In the 1990s Samsung, Hynix, LG, Fujitsu, Siemens Semiconductors (now Infineon Technologies), and NEC were all wooed by UK investment agencies to build fabs in the UK.
Samsung never started building its fab, Hynix sold its fab to Motorola which in turn never equipped it; LG Electronics built its fab but never equipped it; Fujitsu ran its fab for some years but eventually sold it; Siemens sold its fab to Atmel after three years; NEC opened two plants but closed them both.
Royalty and Prime Ministers were wheeled in to open these plants. The Queen opened no less than three UK fabs, those of NEC, Fujitsu and Siemens. The King and Queen of Spain opened AT&T’s fab outside Madrid. The Prince of Orange opened a Philips fab. UK Prime Minister John Major opened NEC’s second fab at Livingston and attended the ground-breaking of LG’s proposed fab in Wales. The first closed, the second never built.
The unifying characteristic of these ill-fated ventures was that they had no spin-off effect on local communities. No new ventures sprang from these fabs. No technology was transferred to the local community. The grants were paid, the jobs were created, then the pants closed and the jobs lost.
It was precisely becasue of this failed manufacturing strategy that Scotland, the UK and the EU focussed their high-tech strategies on encouraging indigenous innovation.