Innovation & Profits
Sustain profitable growth, with clear and focused leadership objectives in the four end markets we address.
of revenues generated by new product lines
Innovation is the fuel that drives our sustainability and our growth. As a technology and innovation-driven company, we invested US$1.50 billion in research and development (R&D) in 2019, representing 15.7% of our net revenues. I 103-1 I
Leading edge technology
ST is one of the few semiconductor companies mastering many different manufacturing technologies, including FD-SOI (Fully Depleted Silicon-On-Insulator), CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor), differentiated Imaging technologies, PCM (embedded non-volatile phase-change memory), RF-SOI (RF Silicon-On-Insulator), Bi-CMOS, BCD (Bipolar, CMOS, DMOS), Silicon Carbide (SiC), Gallium Nitride (GaN), VIPower, MEMS and actuator technologies.
Our technology is found everywhere microelectronics makes a positive contribution to people’s lives. It allows our customers to make end-products more intelligent, more energy efficient, more connected, safer and more secure, and contributes to resolving the challenges faced by society.
SiC wafer manufacturer Norstel AB
In 2019, we acquired the Swedish SiC wafer manufacturer Norstel AB to strengthen our internal SiC ecosystem, from materials expertise and process engineering to SiC-based MOSFET and diode design and manufacturing. We have also begun building up our GaN-on-Silicon production capacity to serve the worldwide 5G infrastructure buildout.
Around 7,800 ST employees work in R&D, and design. This includes 696 technical staff members recognized for their advanced expertise, who play a key role in cross-functional knowledge sharing.
This community drives our most advanced innovation, developing new technology and fostering R&D partnerships with prestigious universities and partners worldwide.
President – Sales, Marketing, Communications and Strategy Development
As a player in complex value chains across the markets we operate in, we understand the importance of innovation and collaboration at all levels to find and bring to market the next technology disruptions. Cooperation and partnerships with global OEMs, SMEs, startups and research labs are part of our DNA. We invest heavily in these efforts to achieve our business ambitions – from open innovation in fundamental technologies, to the creation of multi-party ecosystems supporting end-product developers.”
Our human expertise and innovative products are widely recognized by institutions, customers and media worldwide. Examples include:
- awards for numerous staff members, such as:
- Joël Hartmann, Executive Vice President of Digital & Smart Power Technology and Digital Front-End Manufacturing, who was recognized by SEMI(1) for his work in the field of low power technology, in particular FD-SOI
- Laurent Malier, Technology & Design Platforms General Manager, who was accepted into the prestigious National Academy of Technologies of France
- Andreia Cathelin, one of our technology R&D staff fellows, who has been awarded an honorary doctorate (doctor honoris causa) from the Faculty of Engineering of the prestigious University of Lund in Sweden (promotion 2020)
- awards for our products, such as:
- an innovation award from Schneider Electric in recognition of our highly secure products (STSAFE, TPM2.0, e-SIM) which enable Schneider to provide secure connectivity for Industry 4.0 applications
- a ‘Best Innovation’ award from Elecfans, a popular electronics industry portal in China, for our STSPIN32F0 motor control system-in-package device
- ‘Innovator of the Year’ award from German trade magazine ‘Design & Elektronik’ in three categories: development kits; analog and power management; and power supply subsystems
employees dedicated to R&D and product design
Recognizing the importance of partnerships in the innovation process, we have established a worldwide network of strategic alliances. These include product development with key customers, technology development with other semiconductor manufacturers and development alliances with suppliers of major equipment and software design tools. I 103-2I
active R&D partnerships
These industrial partnerships are complemented by a wide range of research programs conducted with leading universities and research institutes around the world.
Overall, we were involved in 138 active R&D partnerships in 2019. I 103-3 I
Contracts with higher education institutions or research labs
Important Project of Common European Interest
A key R&D partnership is the Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) for microelectronics, which gathers the most important European players in microelectronics to cooperate and innovate to serve the IoT, space, smart driving, and security markets.
In 2019, technical teams from ST France and Italy, along with their external partners, achieved notable R&D breakthroughs in embedded memories and power technologies, which are particularly important for efficient power management systems.
At the same time, we have focused on sharing progress and disseminating knowledge throughout Europe, participating in numerous forums, conferences and cooperative projects.
One of the projects, Nano2022, is a five-year French public–private strategic support program, targeting not only R&D and innovation, but also First Industrial Deployment. It was officially launched on our Crolles site (France) in March 2019 by the French Minister of the Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire.
In addition, a new multi-project wafer program has been launched, which aims to increase the use of 28nm FD-SOI technology in academic laboratories, SMEs and startups, expanding the impact of IPCEI in Europe. ST has also been involved in 12 ECSEL(2) collaboration projects connected to the microelectronics IPCEI since its initiation in 2018.
Artificial intelligence partnerships
In the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), we are engaged in several partnerships with renowned universities such as the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab in the US, research laboratories such as CEA-LIST(3) in France, and competency centers such as the 3AI(4) Côte d’Azur and the MIAI(5) Grenoble Alpes, two of four of the Interdisciplinary Institutes of Artificial Intelligence created by the French government in 2019 (see Focus). I 102-12 I
ST partner program
Launched in 2018, the ST partner program (see www.st.com/partner-program) continues to grow, reaching 250 member partners in 2019. This program aims to enhance the ecosystem around our broad portfolio of products, helping our customers reduce development effort and accelerate time to market. Members of the program provide a wide range of products and services, covering areas such as software and hardware development tools; embedded software, components and modules; and training and engineering services.
Innovation for all
Since 2016, we have introduced new spaces and methodologies to enhance our capabilities in creative thinking and innovation.
Employee intrapreneurs have access to ‘Makers Labs’ to explore their ideas and prototype applications using ST products, and ‘Crea-Labs’ to propose new tools and processes that can help us work better.
The Opus Fab Lab, at our Agrate site (Italy), for example, is dedicated to the development of prototypes, demonstration objects, or even new solutions to improve workflows. It is the latest in a series of four similar labs we have created since 2016.
We also support startups through open innovation contests and by hosting them at our sites. I 103-2 I
Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals
Our commitments and programs as described above contribute to:
SDG target 9.5 – Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors, and increase private research and development spending.
Artificial Intelligence @ ST
Developing our AI competencies
Since 2012, we have been developing our AI competencies by embedding them in ST solutions and applying them to augment intelligence in our internal processes.
Leveraging the industry-leading position of our STM32 family of microcontrollers, we have added advanced AI features in the associated STM32CubeMX ecosystem used by product developers, so that developers can now convert pretrained neural networks into C-code that can run on STM32 microcontrollers.
We are also building our internal pool of AI expertise, applying AI to our internal processes such as default analysis and tracking, predictive maintenance, and new fields of marketing.
External partnerships and open innovation are key for growth in this field. In addition to R&D collaboration, ST partners closely with the most-used neural network training tools providers, such as Google TensorFlow and others, to ensure they are available to customers for our STM32 portfolio. Several recognized ST experts are also engaged in high-level AI advisory groups organized by the EU Commission and the Italian Ministry of Economic Development.
(1) SEMI is the global industry association serving the product design and manufacturing chain for the electronic industry.
(2) Electronic Component and Systems for European Leadership.
(3) Laboratory for Integration of Systems and Technology of ‘Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives’, a French public government-funded research organization.
(4) Interdisciplinary Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
(5) Multidisciplinary Institute in Artificial Intelligence.