Imec and CEA-Leti join forces on Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing


During the state visit of His Excellency Emmanuel Macron President of the French Republic, the Belgian research center imec and the French research institute CEA-Leti, two world-leading research and innovation hubs in nanotechnologies for industry, announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that lays the foundation of a strategic partnership in the domains of Artificial Intelligence and quantum computing, two key strategic value chains for European industry, to strengthen European strategic and economic sovereignty. The joint efforts of imec and CEA-LETI underline Europe’s ambition to take a leading role in the development of these technologies. The research centers’ increased collaboration will focus on developing, testing and experimenting neuromorphic and quantum computing – and should result in the delivery of a digital hardware computing toolbox that can be used by European industry partners to innovate in a wide variety of application domains – from personalized healthcare and smart mobility to the new manufacturing industry and smart energy sectors.

Edge Artificial Intelligence (eAI) commonly refers to computer systems that display intelligent behavior locally on the hardware devices (e.g chips). They analyze their environment and take the required actions to achieve specific goals. Edge AI is poised to become a key driver of economic development. And, even more importantly perhaps, it holds the promise of solving many societal challenges – from treating diseases that cannot yet be cured today, to minimizing the environmental impact of farming.

Decentralization from the cloud to the edge is a key challenge of AI technologies applied to large heterogeneous systems. This requires innovation in the components industry with powerful, energy-guzzling processors.

“The ability to develop technologies such as AI and quantum computing – and put them into industrial use across a wide spectrum of applications – is one of Europe’s major challenges. Both quantum and neuromorphic computing (to enable artificial intelligence) are very promising areas of innovation, as they hold a huge industrialization potential. A stronger collaboration in these domains between imec and CEA-Leti, two of Europe’s leading research centers, will undoubtedly help to speed up the technologies’ development time: it will provide us with the critical mass that is required to create more – and faster – impact, and will result in plenty of new business opportunities for our European industry partners,” says Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec.

“Two European microelectronics pioneers today are joining forces to raise the game in both high-performance computing and trusted AI at the edge, and ultimately to fuel European industry success through innovations in aeronautics, defence, automobiles, Industry 4.0 and health care,” said Emmanuel Sabonnadière, Leti CEO. “This collaboration with imec following earlier innovation-collaboration agreements with the Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the largest organization for applied research, will focus all three institutes to the task of keeping Europe at the forefront of new digital hardware for AI, HPC and Cyber-security applications.”

Imec and CEA-Leti are inviting partners from industry as well as academia to join them and benefit from access to the research centers’ state-of-the-art technology with proven reproducibility – enabling a much higher degree of device complexity, reproducibility and material perfection while sharing the costs of precompetitive research.