MAGDEBURG The wood chips are to be produced in Magdeburg from 2027. In the first stage of expansion, two adjacent semiconductor factories are to be built, which can create several thousand jobs. Intel intends to invest approximately EUR 17 billion in this initially.
Whether the European law on chips – a law designed to mobilize tens of billions for the chip industry – will actually be passed in Brussels so soon remains to be seen. The aim of the EU countries is to agree on their position in December, as announced by the Czech Presidency of the EU Council. “This will be the starting point for negotiations with the European Parliament on the final chip law,” said the spokesman.
However, Parliament has to define its position beforehand, and only in the next step would both institutions possibly negotiate a final compromise. It is impossible to say with certainty how long the process will take. Everyone involved is aware of the importance of the project, but it cannot be ruled out that the negotiations may drag on for months. “An agreement at the end of the first quarter of 2023 is theoretically possible, but also very ambitious,” said Green MEP Henrike Hahn.
Through law, the EU wants to prevent Europe from further lagging behind Asia and America in the production of microchips. Among other things, subsidies for some new semiconductor factories should be facilitated. State aid to companies in the EU is really only possible in exceptional cases, in order not to distort competition.
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Overall, Intel hopes for generous government support to close the cost gap with other possible locations. According to the company, this is the only way that these investments in Europe will be profitable. The federal government wants to support the settlement in Magdeburg with a billion sum. By 2024, EUR 6.8 billion is to flow out, of which 2.7 billion is estimated in the budget for 2022 alone.
Even before production begins, Intel wants to hire many employees and train some of them in other factories. “This is on-the-job training,” said Holthaus. By 2027, around 3,000 employees could work in Magdeburg.
The area of the state capital of Saxony-Anhalt offers a total of eight factories. Holthaus is not afraid of recruiting qualified employees. He thinks it’s realistic to get staff. “Germany has a rich history as an industrial location.”
The chip manufacturer also counts on young talents from nearby universities. “We will expand cooperation with the universities of Magdeburg and Saxony-Anhalt – this can be done at different levels,” said Holthaus. “We want Magdeburg to become even more attractive as a university location and for many students to discover Magdeburg.” From his point of view, the facilities at the university are great – especially the clean room. In a clean room, the concentration of airborne particles is as low as possible. Even a single speck of dust during production can render the microchip unusable.
Last week, it was announced that the Otto von Guericke University in Magdeburg is planning one or two interdisciplinary courses from the fall semester of 2023. The program will start more at the bachelor’s level, plans were set out on Monday by university rector Jens Strackeljan. Such an international study program could therefore be designed for 100-150 students. “Whether the subject will be called semiconductor technologies, microtechnologies or nanotechnologies – there is still no set date,” says the rector.
Intel is also interested in ensuring that skilled workers can gain clean room experience, Strackeljan said. The university could therefore support training and further education by providing the environment.