Cisco to open its first EU chip design center in Barcelona

The US company said the project will help grow Europe’s semiconductor ecosystem at a time when the continent is trying to reduce dependence on China

The Cisco stand at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February 2018.
The Cisco stand at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February 2018.PAU BARRENA (AFP)

The US tech giant Cisco Systems on Thursday said it will launch a new design center for next-generation semiconductor devices in the northeastern Spanish city of Barcelona, its first such facility in the European Union.

The design center will be located in the city’s new Urban Innovation Center, inside the former factory of Ca l’Alier, in the Poblenou neighborhood, where the California company already has an innovation hub. “The center aims to contribute Cisco’s knowledge and experience to help grow the European chips ecosystem,” said the company in a statement. “The center is the first of its kind for Cisco in the European Union.”

The announcement was made after Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins met with Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Madrid. The initiative is part of the Spanish government’s Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE) in microelectronics and semiconductors, promoted by the executive thanks to EU Next Generation funds. The semiconductor PERTE is expected to allocate over €12 billion.

This investment is in line with the European Union’s strategy of developing its own microchip industry, since these elements are essential for the manufacture of technological products (including electric vehicles). Currently, chip production is carried out mainly in China. A robust domestic industry would not be as sensitive to supply bottlenecks that can force automobile factories to close for days.

“Spain is on the way to become a key player in achieving the EU objective of reaching 20% of the world chip market by 2030,” said Sánchez in remarks reported by Cisco.

“Semiconductors are essential to so much innovation, and our advances in this field help overcome the performance, economic, and power consumption limitations of current infrastructure,” said Robbins. His company’s specific investment in its new center in Barcelona has not transpired, although sources familiar with the matter said it would be disclosed in the coming weeks.

Barcelona Deputy Mayor Jaume Collboni said that this project consolidates the city as “the technological capital of Spain.”

Another tech giant, Intel, has also pledged to open an innovation laboratory in Barcelona, in alliance with the city’s Supercomputing Center. The company’s €200 million investment would be matched by an equal amount of public funds.

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