Eindhoven Business Briefing: ASML caught in the crossfire of the US v. China tech war

(Editor’s note: We started the Eindhoven Business Briefing in 2017 because we had more news in our headquarters city – which has a huge expat population – than we could possibly post. Eindhoven is way more than just another tech hub … it’s one of the most liveable innovation centers in Europe. The future really is being invented here. Send your news to: [email protected])

The Nikkei Asian Review is reporting ASML is caught in the crossfire of the tech war between China and the United States.

Worried that U.S. officials will retaliate, Dutch officials have put on hold ASML shipping a machine that will allow the Chinese to take a giant step toward a self-sufficient semiconductor industry on the road to global domination, according to the NAR post. Eindhoven-based ASML makes the giant photolithography machines that enable chip makers to etch electronic circuitry onto silicon substrate.

U.S. officials are analyzing all chip-making equipment shipped to China, what it’s used for and where it’s coming from. And that puts ASML in U.S. sights as it is the only company in the world with the technology to make the extreme ultraviolet lithography chip tool, or EUV.

The physics of how ASML machines burn nano-circuitry makes our heads hurt. Simply put, the EUV technology would allow Chinese companies to compete with Samsung, TSMC and other ASML customers in making the smallest, fastest and most efficient computer chips used in smart phones and other consumer goods as the industry as a whole approaches its physical limitations.

Dutch officials are using multinational trade agreements to hold up the ASML shipment. Which means the 80 million euro, room-sized machine might ultimately be shipped. But the NAR post makes clear that ASML is just one company that’s being pressured not to sell to Chinese tech giants, companies such as Huawei the U.S. accuses of both unfair competition and using consumer technology for spying.

Losing access to the Chinese market would not be a good thing for ASML or Eindhoven as whole (see post below.) China and the Netherlands have become interdependent trading partners. As Dispatches reported last year, Huawei has a huge distribution center in Eindhoven that includes a 10,000 m2 warehouse … a facility that will double in size by next year. Eindhoven handles storage and distribution for Huawei ICT in Europe, which includes 38 countries.

Huawei alone has more than 600 employees in the Netherlands, 70 percent of whom are locals, according to Lang Yi, Huawei’s COO in the Netherlands. The Dutch operation generated 368 million in revenue for 2017 and injected 37 million into the local economy in procurement.

But ASML also can’t afford to defy the Americans. The U.S. is a crucial market, with about 16 percent of ASML’s annual top-line revenue coming from American customers such as Intel and Micron.

Stay tuned … this will get interesting.

(Thanks to Dispatches colleague Nancy Wellendorff Church for tracking the Asian news.)


Where in the world are Eindhoven’s innovators?

Speaking of global domination, we monitor the progress of Eindhoven’s startups coming out of HighTechXL and even the new, new startups are having global impact.

For example

Incooling, which is developing new technology for cooling CPUs and GPUs in data centers, is preparing for CES 2020 in Las Vegas. Incooling team members have been to Taiwan twice and all over Europe attending events and winning pitch competitions. Incooling is part of the first deep-tech cohort as HighTechXL switched one year ago to venture building from a conventional accelerator

Dynaxion team members have been the United States twice as part of the Opoid Detection Challenge, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Dynaxion uses CERN’s small particle accelerator to scan packages and freight at the atomic level, helping stop the shipment of drugs and other illicit materials. This startup is also part of the first HighTechXL deep-tech venture-building cohort.

• HighTechXL alumnus Accerion has been to Boston, China and other locales for trade shows and trade delegations. Accerion makes positioning technology for mobile robots and autonomous guided vehicles. Accerion is now based in Venlo.

Aircision has been selected for Hello Tomorrow’s Deep Tech Pioneers. The team heads for Paris in March 2020, selected out of more than 5,000 startups. Aircision uses CERN-developed laser technology to build a crucial link in the 5G communications matrix. Aircision is part of the first HighTechXL deep-tech venture-building cohort.

• Pieter Heersink and the TicTag team is in China. In September, TicTag earned the top prize of the KVK Innovation Top 100 award. Pieter is with Outpie Partners in Shenzen, China as part of the China Europe Smart Tech & Creative Industry Summit. TicTag, also a HighTechXL alum, developed metal tag technology that allows you to connect to pretty much anything via your smartphone.

• Violetta Shishkina with CADChain also is in China on the same Outpie Partners-organized trip. CADChain uses blockchain technology to verify and protect CAD content copyright.

High Tech Next is back for 2010

Get ready for High Tech Next. This year’s theme is “Towards 2030.”

The annual high-tech love fest is scheduled for 29 November in the Conference Center on High Tech Campus Eindhoven. High Tech Next brings to town execs from high tech companies from around the world to inveigh on the world-changing tech advancements.

Topics this year will include health, applied Intelligence (which we’re guessing is the same as artificial intelligence), energy, smart environments and software/platforms.

Speakers include:

Eva Wisse, Chief of Staff CTO, Philips, which has emerged as a major healthcare equipment/tech player. Wisse will talk about the future of healthcare.

Clara Otero Perez, Director Systems Innovations for chipmaker NXP. Perez will give a preview of the mobility of the future in which zero emissions, zero road fatalities and maximum mobility convenience will become realities.

Hendrik Blokhuis, Director Country Digitization for Cisco will discuss your obligation to get involved with how technology will change economies and society.

Koen Bertels, founder QuantumForce and a professor Technical University of Delft will discuss quantum computing.

• Eindhoven-based serial entrepreneurs Johan Feenstra, CEO of SMART Photonics, and Ewit Roos, CEO of PhotonDelta, will discuss photonics and Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs).

Jean-Paul Linnartz will explain the technology behind wireless optical communication, often called LiFi. LiFi uses light to transmit data.

There are lots of seminars and workshops … too many to include here, so check out the website here.

The event is free, but HTC officials ask that you register in advance, which you can do here.

PyData Eindhoven, 29 & 30 November

PyData brings together users and developers of data analysis tools to discuss how to apply languages and tools to the challenges of data management, processing, analytics, and visualization.

Sponsors include ASML, the global photolithography giant.

Note: This event is split between two venues including at the ASML campus,  so check all the info here.

Tickets are 52 euros to 276 euros and you can get them here.

Believe it or not, PyData will likely sell out because, well, this is Eindhoven. So get your tickets now.

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