Looking back at 2021

2021 was the year when our often invisible and hidden electronics industry came into focus precisely because. semiconductor deficiency. The subcontractors’ electronics products and production are critical parts of the entire industry’s total production – which became very clear in 2021, when the lack of, for example, semiconductors for the automotive industry occasionally stopped the production of cars and trucks at both Volvo and Scania. This was because significant electronic chips were missing that were necessary to get the finished vehicle to the end customer.

In the spring, smarter electronics systems launched a survey of the hidden Swedish semiconductor industry. We have identified over 100 Swedish semiconductor companies where those who work directly with semiconductors have a total annual turnover in 2020 of over SEK 5 billion and more than 2,200 employees. It is a part of the electronics industry where several new start-up companies are added and reach attention on various lists such as the 33 list. In addition, many of the large Swedish companies have their own IC design departments for the construction of, for example, their own ASIC chips that are manufactured in foreign foundies. These Swedish companies have sales of more than SEK 12 million according to an in-depth analysis we have done together with Business Sweden’s new semiconductor team. There are also factories that manufacture semiconductors around Sweden in various clusters, for example around the electronics height in Järfälla where the world’s largest MEMS foundry, Silex is headquartered, as well as II-VI (formerly Finisar / Syntune) which is also expanding rapidly.

In addition, there are companies that do not manufacture chips or equipment & materials for chip manufacturing themselves, but only design ASICs and other types of semiconductor circuits that are outsourced to foreign IC foundries for manufacturing. These companies have sales of almost SEK 12 million in semiconductor chip design, which has led us, together with Teknikföretagen and RISE, to push for a national Swedish semiconductor strategy to reduce our vulnerability to component shortages in the future and at the same time scale up the industry we already have to reach even greater international successes.

The idea with the survey of the Swedish semiconductor industry is to also create attention in higher places and among decision-makers after Sweden unfortunately as one of the few EU countries did not choose to sign the IPCEI declaration for microelectronics in early 2021. The survey has led to the Ministry of Trade and Industry show a little more interest, as does Business Sweden, which started up Semiconductors by Sweden Alliance, where the SES program office supports and helps both Business Sweden’s teams and Swedish companies in their internationalization strategies. It has been a huge interest, both from the media and not least the companies. Semiconductor electronics are also hot in the EU, where the EU announced the European Chip Act (ECA) in response to ensuring that security-critical chip supply for society in our immediate area. Employees of smarter electronics systems closely follow ECA and the other electronics initiatives as well as new industrial alliances that are being formed at European level to help Swedish companies come along and make correct strategic choices.

The media has paid attention to this and Smarter electronic systems have several times been interviewed as semiconductor experts in podcasts, radio, TV as well as in various newspapers. 2021 was the year when we appeared not only in industry media such as ETN, EiN and Evertiq but also in the morning sofas in SVT, SR, NyTeknik’s podcast, TT’s and OMNI’s news and also in the general public via newspapers such as DN, Aftonbladet and Computer Sweden for to name a few. Our often hidden industry has suddenly become visible. On our new website, we now have a media coverage where news about relevant things in the smarter electronics system area is posted to strengthen the image of a thriving electronics industry.

In 2021, the EU’s 9th Horizon Europe framework program has also been launched with a series of launch events and information meetings and large, thick announcement documents where smarter electronic systems have been active in monitoring the opportunities this provides for Swedish industry to participate in international collaborations. New Eureka programs such as Xecs and Eurostars-3 have been launched as well as a very large new electronics partnership program KDT – Key Digital Technologies with ~ 2 Giga Euro in budget 2021-2027 which takes over from the predecessor ECSEL. It provides great opportunities for Swedish industry to reach out more widely and participate in international ECS ecosystems. In 2021, a record number of Swedish project participants were granted funding for ECSEL projects, where Smarter electronics systems have been helpful in both the application phase and around project start-up. Swedish project applications were so good in the last ECSEL call that Vinnova almost doubled the original budget to SEK 75 million for Swedish co-financing for the five new ECSEL projects with 18 Swedish participants that started in 2021. We expect the KDT and Xecs programs to also play a decisive role. role over the next six years and we have put Swedish participation in these programs as important KPIs in our new updated effect logic.

For our two annual national project announcements, interest remains high, where the focus on projects around built-in intelligence and energy-optimized systems is gaining increasing weight. The larger FOI call at the beginning of the year attracted 34 project applications that applied for SEK 98 million in grants, where Vinnova granted 10 projects to share in SEK 31 million. In this year’s second call for feasibility studies, 11 feasibility study projects were granted to share in SEK 4 million out of the 32 applications received that Vinnova assessed. Since the start of the SIP program in 2014, 585 applications have been received from 631 actors with a total grant rate of 35%. Also in 2022, two announcements will be announced, the first already in early January. During the summer, we received a positive message from Vinnova that Smarter electronics systems have received continued funding for the next 3 years so that the continuity of our calls will continue.

Finally: after this dire electronics shortage in 2021, I want to wish everyone in our industry a really Merry Christmas and a Happy, New and even better electronics year 2022.

Thorbjörn Ebefors,
Deputy Program Manager
[email protected]