From software developers to chip manufacturers, Silicon-Valley-like areas are popping up worldwide. A Tech Valley on the East Coast of the US runs from the Canadian border down towards New York City. The University of Albany’s College of Nanoscience and Technology is a cornerstone in the Valley. Let’s begin with one area that was prominent at the recent GTC event in Santa Clara. GlobalFoundries hosted the conference and Saratoga County New York, the site of GF’s latest foundry, Fab 8, was strutting their stuff.
Welcome to Saratoga Springs
All these centers want to lure technology companies to their area. Why? Those companies provide jobs for local residents and eventually tax money for local coffers. They also draw people from outside the area with promises of new jobs and great living conditions, culture, and recreation. Saratoga advertises their Victorian mansions, National Museum of Dance, Lincoln Baths with spa-like mineral waters, and, of course, their world-famous race track. Oh yeah, they also offer subsidies to companies accepting their invitation.
The SEDC (Saratoga Economic Development Corporation) entices businesses with shovel ready sites, a high class semiconductor manufacturing park, market research and project analysis, labor market overviews complete with a locally tech-educated labor force, not to mention a 10-year tax free zone. They provide a liaison to federal, state, and local governments which are known to support tech growth. Another plus is neighboring Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological university which is reported to have the world’s most powerful university-based supercomputer. Angiodynamics, a medical device provider for treating cancer and peripheral vascular disease is an example of the innovative companies that have taken up residence in Saratoga County, along with the GE Healthcare Project.
Just north across the Canadian border, Ottawa invites tech firms to a city which is ranked sixth in the world for quality of life. Situated near three rivers and numerous lakes, the area is prime for fishing and boating. Residents look forward to winter when ice skating on the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO site, is popular. In milder seasons, Ottawa’s bicycle paths, walking and hiking trails in the greenbelt surrounding the city are busy, and fall brings autumn colors.
Solidly established in these lovely surroundings, the IBM Ottawa Software Lab provides an advanced research and development center. The Lab is involved in open source and has contributed to the Eclipse open source tool platform, the J9 Java virtual machine and class libraries, IBM Records Manager and Rational model-driven development products.
Software development is thriving with more than 600 companies involved. Ottawa boasts Cognos, IBM’s business intelligence software while Corel specializes in graphic software. Adobe proudly resides in Ottawa’s Little Italy and has current job openings which include discount NHL tickets [all Canadians are required to be hockey fans]. The wireless industry is represented by a network of Ottawa-based businesses under the umbrella of the Ottawa Wireless Cluster. Spotwave, for example, provides indoor wireless coverage solutions.
Across the ocean, Grenoble, France, famous for the 1968 Olympics and Jean-Claude Killy, not only promises snow, but silicon. In fact, Grenoble is one angle of the European technology triangle which includes Dresden, Germany only 900 kilometers away, and Nice, France. The area is home to Synopsys, Mentor Graphics, and Texas Instruments.
In Grenoble, you’ll also find Soitec - semiconductor manufacturing company that pursues R&D in materials such as SOQ (Silicon on Quartz), and III-V composites, and specializes in SOI (Silicon-on-Insulator). Soitec’s Concentrix concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology is a component of an understanding involving energy management specialist Schneider Electric and the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen).
Other companies lying in the European triangle are Sofileta which develops technical textiles, such as flame retardant fabrics, and NXP Semiconductors formerly Philips Semiconductors, which specializes in RF, analog, power management, security and digital processing. Biotechnology is represented by Roche Diagnostics.
Nicknamed the Alpine Silicon Valley of Europe, Grenoble is the address of micro and nanotechnology firms, research centers, and electronic clusters. One such is Minalogic whose motto is So Small, So Smart. Minalogic develops intelligent miniaturized solutions that are a unique hybrid of micro- and nano-technologies and embedded software. Always interested in innovations, Minalogic awards a Green Certification to energy efficient projects – those that boost the energy efficiency of smart miniaturized chips by at least 30 percent and reduce the environmental impact of micro and nanotech systems.
Minalogic has nearly 200 members, including HP; Orange Labs for fixed, mobile, internet, TV and IP telephony services; STMicroelectronics, a semiconductor company that is currently displaying its wares at Electronica Productronica India in New Delhi this week including microcontrollers, analog, MEMS for health care, and power converters for solar; Schneider Electric which specializes in energy usage; and Soitec.
One of two Minalogic work groups concentrates on EmSoC – modeling, simulation, validation tools and methods; software implementation tools and methods for on-chip multiprocessor platforms; software infrastructure for embedded systems; technical building blocks for specific embedded applications; and multiprocessor platforms (MP-SoC). The other group focuses on Micro- and Nano-technologies – electronic hardware, physical design (CAD) tools and libraries; packaging techniques, including "in-package system" and "package-on-package"; as well as solid-state electronic components.
Another organization operating out of Grenoble is Minatec, a campus that combines education, research, and industry ranging from startups to major corporations. Minatec’s research encompasses micro and nanoelectronics, memory, MEMS, biochips and biosystems, photonics, RF components and systems and spintronics. STMicroelectronics, a founding partner, is currently planning several research projects. One venture is in the area of energy, the other in healthcare.
Grenoble France will be the site of the Innovation Fair in October
With all this high tech activity, you can see why Europe is the site of several technology focused gatherings this fall. The Grenoble Innovation Fair is held in October. Another corner of the triangle, Nice, will be the site of the Sohia Antipoles Microelectronics Event, (SAME) whose theme will be Digital Mobility.
Dresden, Grenoble’s tech twin, is the site of GlobalFoundries Fab 1, which by the way just snatched NXP Semiconductors Netherlands’s Rutger Wijburg to be their VP and general manager effective this October. The same month, GlobalFoundries will be present at SEMICON Europa, the leading forum for semiconductor and microelectronics manufacturing in Europe.
Next month Europe will be buzzing with technology events and forums such as Semicon
If you ever watched the movie or TV sitcom Outsourced, the next technology location on our list won’t surprise you. Bangalore in India has two main technology clusters. The first is aptly named Electronics City with InfoSys and Wipro, a vegetable oil manufacturer that morphed into an IT company. The other, Whitefield is a joint venture with Singapore which finds residents SAP, Dell, Huawei, who tags their product categories as Cloud, Pipe and Device, Tata Consulting, and Oracle.
Biotechnology is also alive and well in India. You will find the Institute of Bio-informatics and Biotechnology, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore.
What lures companies and their employees to India? History, beautiful parks such as the botanical gardens Lal Bagh and Cubbon Park, and the night life. Bangalore has earned several nicknames: the Garden City of India and the Silicon Valley of India. A tagline that was not overlooked by the British founder of the India-based, now defunct, IT Examiner, is the Pub Capital of India. From swank bars to small highway watering holes, Bangalore rocks with night life. With cowboy sounding names, the Lock and Load or the Nevada Bar and Lounge draw thirsty, energetic residents.
We don’t know if any Vodka bars will surround Innograd, (innovation city) the embryonic Russian attempt at creating a Silicon Valley in Skolkovo. President Medvedev announced the project in early 2010 and the government is said to have amended 200 laws to encourage investment in Skolkovo. They’ll have a tough go if the World Banks Ease of Doing Business report is to be believed. They ranked Russia 123 behind Botswana and Uganda. Ouch.
The area began literally from the ground up requiring the installation of basic infrastructure such as electricity and water delivery. A university is planned in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that is projected to be up and running by 2014. Pledges of financial investments and building of R&D centers are in place with Siemens and GE. Memorandums of Understanding are in place with Intel and Cisco. The Kremlin, like many government entities in other countries, is pouring rupees into creating a silicon or IT complex within its borders. Private sector companies involved in the project have committed more than $250 million and entered into agreements to locate in Skolkovo. Nokia Siemens Networks, for example, will set up both a Smart Lab and an R&D team related to wireless technologies there.
Medvedev has grand plans for Innograd which should be easy to find just outside of Moscow. He is quoted in Forbes as saying it would not produce "toys for eggheads," but new technologies "that will help cut costs, raise enterprises’ revenue, improve labor conditions and the environment."
Each of the Silicon sectors of the world have high hopes of improving technology by doing it better, cheaper, and faster. Each area promises delightful living conditions for the employees of the major and minor firms who respond to their invitations. While most governments are looking at higher taxes to meet economic downturns, many give tax breaks to incoming technology companies. Right now, technology is the password to obtaining many benefits worldwide.