Sector deep dive: Semiconductors

Processors are at the heart of connected devices. In recent years the major chip manufacturers have been focusing on areas like power management, security, manufacturing technologies and better processors capable of computing big data with less resources. That technology is increasingly being applied in applications such as autonomous driving, drug discovery, and cloud and edge computing. Companies leading the way in terms of European patent holdings include Qualcomm, Huawei, Intel, NXP, STMicroelectronics, and Samsung.

The semiconductor market has seen significant consolidation in recent years and that continued into 2020. That included the $21 billion tie-up between Analog Devices Inc. and Maxim Integrated Products Inc, followed by Nvidia Corp’s $40 billion proposed takeover of Arm Ltd – although that deal has been met by growing opposition from others in the industry.

Finally, at the end of 2020 AMD announced a $30 billion-plus deal to acquire FPGA developer Xilinx. The trends in the industry indicate that more of the focus has shifted to specialised chips, which possess higher performance and efficiency, to serve cloud and AI demands.

Table 1. Semiconductor players from top 100

Company nameEU grantsIndustryCountry of origin
Qualcomm14,151SemiconductorsUnited States
Intel5,867SemiconductorsUnited States
Infineon Technologies4,879SemiconductorsGermany
Nxp Semiconductors3,700SemiconductorsNetherlands

Table 2. Technology trends

Top trendsTop playersActive grantsTop players 2019-2020Active grants 2019-2020Key areasOther key players

Graphic and data processors


Wireless transmission, signal allocation, information transfer and retrieval, program control arrangements, multiplexing, dispatchers programs, resource management, user Interface controls, image processing

Huawei, LG Corp, Ericsson, Samsung


Semiconductor and transistor manufacturing

Infineon Technologies1,188Infineon Technologies336

Field effect transistors current flow, bipolar junction transistors with gate electrode, semiconductor types, MOSFET transistors, field effect transistors with insulated gates, complementary MIS field-effect transistors, pixel isolation structures, recessed field plates, stacked arrangement of semiconductor, device protection, IC integrated chipsets, electronic circuitry for devices, semiconductor and BJT geometry or layout, plural semiconductor devices, multi-resurf structures, semiconductor manufacturing methods

Ericsson, Huawei, Apple, Samsung


Network access and security


Device network data management cryptographic memory allocation/access, error detection

Apple, Samsung, LG Corp, Huawei


Power management and storage


Program control on multiple data storage, CAD- command handling arrangements, pre-scheduled power management, input/output devices using interrupt, DC input/output conversion using capacitors and plural semiconductor devices, electronic switching or gating- field transistors

Apple, Huawei, Samsung, Ericsson

Infineon Technologies118NXP Semiconductors27
NXP Semiconductors111STMicroelectronics25

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