Roger van Overstraeten: A high-tech visionary

Roger van Overstraeten: A high-tech visionary
David Manners Roger van Overstraeten, who died last week, was one of Europe’s high-tech visionaries. As president of IMEC (the University of Leuven’s International Microelectronics Centre) he not only led an $88m-a-year research effort which benefited all the world’s major chip companies, but he also raised a $75m venture capital fund and used it to spawn 15 spin-off commercial companies. He was the most successful person in Europe at replicating a Silicon Valley culture – reminiscent of the great pioneering academics at Stanford University who nurtured California’s microelectronics industry. van Overstraeten’s lifetime ambition was to drag European microelectronics excellence out of the laboratories and into the factories. “I’ve always been inclined to do that ever since I was at university,” he once told EW. The time was right for it because, he said: “Europe is gradually being formed as a United Europe. At the beginning of the ’80s industrial companies in Europe did not collaborate and there was no co-operation between academia and industry. Now it’s much more open, much more collaborative.” He thought that telecommunications liberalisation and laws which allowed companies to motivate employees by stock options would enable the success of a European entrepreneur high-tech culture.


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