US chipmaker Wolfspeed and automotive supplier ZF have announced a strategic partnership for building a chip plant and an innovation lab.

The joint innovation lab will help boost advances in silicon carbide systems and devices for mobility, industry, and energy applications.

The partnership will involve a major investment by ZF to support the construction of a 200mm Silicon Carbide device fab in Ensdorf, Germany.

The device fab and research and development centre are planned as part of the Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) for Microelectronics and Communication Technologies framework. These are both dependent on state assistance from the European Commission.

ZF CEO Dr Holger Klein said: “These initiatives are a significant step towards a successful industrial transformation. They strengthen European supply resilience and, at the same time, support the European Green Deal and the strategic goals for Europe’s Digital Decade.”

The joint research and development centre in Germany will focus on challenges related to e-mobility and renewable energy system.

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By GlobalData

The partnership aims to create innovations for silicon carbide systems, applications, and products, covering the entire value chain right from chip to complete systems.

In addition, the innovation process will be opened to more collaborative partners, creating an end-to-end European silicon carbide innovation network.

For the construction of the fully automated advanced 200mm wafer fabrication plant in Saarland, ZF plans to make a sizable investment running into hundreds of millions of dollars in return for Wolfspeed common stock.

ZF will gain a minority ownership position in the fab as a part of the investment.

Wolfspeed will have all operational and management control rights in the new facility.

Wolfspeed CEO and president Gregg Lowe said: “We have a strong partner by our side in ZF, which brings industry-leading experience in scaling components for electric mobility as well as the aptitude to accelerate innovation in Silicon Carbide systems and power devices. I am confident this partnership will lift Silicon Carbide semiconductor technology to a new level of global impact, supporting increased sustainability and efficiency efforts across a multitude of industries.”