Bosch has opened a EUR1bn (US$1.2bn) wafer fab facility in the East German city of Dresden.

In the virtual presence of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, EU Commission VP, Margrethe Vestager and Saxony Minister-President, Michael Kretschmer, the factory was officially inaugurated on 7 June.

“The new Bosch wafer fab will boost our capacity in microelectronics,” said Merkel. “Microelectronics is the basis for nearly every promising technology, for applications of artificial intelligence, for quantum computing and for automated and connected driving; which is also a Bosch specialty.

“The new wafer fab is the single largest investment in the company’s history. This cannot be stressed too much. Its size and additional production capacity alone are impressive. The very latest methods of data-driven continuous improvement in production make the Dresden plant a smart factory. To put it another way: in this plant, natural and artificial intelligence have joined forces with the internet of things to form a productive symbiosis.”

For her part, Vestager added: “The technology showcased at the new Dresden wafer fab is a great example of what public and private European actors can achieve when they join their efforts.

“Semiconductors will contribute to the development of industries like transportation, manufacturing, clean energy, and healthcare; where Europe excels. It will help strengthen Europe’s competitiveness as a cradle for cutting-edge innovations.”

Bosch chairman, Volkmar Denner, noted: “For Bosch, semiconductors are a core technology and it is strategically important to develop and manufacture them ourselves. In Dresden, with the help of artificial intelligence, we will take semiconductor manufacturing to the next level.

“This is our first AIoT factory: fully connected, data-driven, and self-optimising right from the start.” Bosch is investing roughly EUR1bn (US$1.2bn) in this high-tech location. This is the biggest single investment in the company’s more than 130-year history.”

Production in Dresden will start as early as July – six months earlier than planned. From that time on, semiconductors made in the new plant will be installed in Bosch power tools. For automotive customers, chip production will start in September and three months earlier than planned.

Directly and indirectly, it means many new jobs in a huge growth industry. On 72,000 square metres of floor space, 250 people are already working in the wafer fab in Saxony’s State capital.

Employee numbers are due to grow to around 700 once construction work has been completed.