For researchers and organizations in Canada’s micro-nano R&D space, recent renewed funding to the nanoelectronics research community in Europe sends an important signal about working together to advance research and innovation in this vital sector.
The funding boost provides €8 million from government sources behind the EU’s biggest-ever research and innovation program, Horizon 2020, to the Next Europractice eXtended Technologies and Services (NEXTS) community. (My organization, CMC Microsystems, manages the Canadian equivalent of NEXTS, Canada’s National Design Network.)
The NEXTS funding secures key infrastructure for European researchers through the end of 2021. The European program, proven and well established given its 30 years of assisting with research and innovation, will diversify its technology offering, enabling researchers and companies to grow into new markets and train the next generation of engineers.
Fortunately for Canada, this new funding also brings new options for our own research community, thanks to CMC’s three-decades-long role as a broker for Canada’s researchers with many of these NEXTS organizations. At the same time, we’ll continue to offer European researchers access to made-in-Canada advanced manufacturing technologies such as those developed by Teledyne DALSA in Waterloo. There’s also opportunity for us to work more closely with our EU partners in photonics, an area in which Canada excels.
My recent visit with some of these EU organizations reinforced to me the value of continuing these collaborations. Given the complexity of future advanced manufacturing, it’s only through partnerships that we’ll be able to tackle the challenges around designing the next-generation chips needed for Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence applications.
Meanwhile, funding uncertainty for the Canadian community that we manage is putting the competitiveness of researchers in Canada at significant risk. We must remember that their competitive edge needs continuous honing, because they’re competing with researchers in other countries who are benefiting from programs like ours. And we’ll be watching how NEXTS makes good on its intention to increase services to European companies, as we prepare to provide the same to our startups and SMEs in Canada.