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ASML teams up with Dutch university to boost semiconductor research

Semiconductor chip.
Semiconductor chip. Copyright Canva.
Copyright Canva.
By Eleanor Butler
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Europe’s most valuable tech firm is working with a Dutch university to bolster chipmaking capabilities following threats of relocation.

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ASML, based in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, has signed an agreement with Eindhoven Tech University (TU/e) to spend a combined €180 million on semiconductor research over the coming decade.

The tech giant, which makes machines to produce computer chips, will conduct more joint investigations with TU/e, with plans for more PhD students to be trained in the field.

The university said it expects to spend €100 million, while ASML will contribute €80 million to the joint project.

"With this agreement we are expanding our long-term collaboration with TU/e," said Roger Dassen, Chief Financial Officer of ASML. "TU/e is the purveyor of talent in the region and an important academic partner. The collaboration will increase the availability of PhDs, which our industry has a strong need for, and will provide scientific insights that are relevant to the chip industry and society."

Eindhoven is home to a host of tech firms and has been branded Europe's response to Silicon Valley, with ASML as its crown jewel.

Boasting a market capitalisation of more than €353 billion, ASML is not only a successful company, but one that holds implications for European security.

As semiconductors are essential to so many digital processes, Europe wants to reduce its reliance on foreign manufacturers within this industry.

Earlier this year, ASML threatened to move operations out of the Netherlands over concerns that anti-immigration policies could hinder the recruitment of foreign workers.

Around 40% of the firm's employees in the Netherlands are not Dutch.

In response to the firm's misgivings, the Dutch government announced "Operation Beethoven", a €2.5 billion strategy to prevent ASML's relocation.

This money will be channeled into housing, education, transport, and the electric grid in Eindhoven.

The partnership between TU/e and ASML is "in line with the goals of Project Beethoven," said the university on Thursday.

"[It is] aimed at further strengthening the Brainport region and the Netherlands in the field of semiconductors, with a view to creating solutions for society and our future earning capacity," TU/e added.

Last month, ASML signed a letter of intent with the city of Eindhoven to expand its business there, quieting concerns about a relocation.

"As we have said before, ASML prefers to keep its core activities in the Netherlands as close as possible to the existing locations," CFO Roger Dassen said in a statement.

The firm hopes to house 20,000 new employees in the north of Eindhoven near the city's airport.

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