Microelectronics & IoT


KEOLABS - Software Programming - France

Microelectronics are being reimagined in Provence thanks to IoT technology

Provence is the birthplace of the smart card industry. With standard-bearers such the international semi-conductor leader STMicroelectronics and Gemalto, the world’s top smart card manufacturer in the 1990s when the company was known as Gemplus, the local sector paved the way for the widespread adoption of smart card technology in France and around the world.

The technological breakthroughs made by these two companies laid the foundation for a renowned microelectronics ecosystem in Provence that today features a diverse range of businesses with sought-after expertise in such key areas as:

  • Design and testing of integrated circuits
  • Research and development for materials and components
  • Advanced manufacturing methods
  • Industrial maintenance techniques
  • Digital and cyber security...

With its foundation of experience and excellence, Provence’s microelectronics sector has now developed globally recognized specialties in both digital security and electronic payment systems based on M2M technology, which have broad real-world applications such as health services, public transport, energy management, and home automation.

The semi-conductor industry in Provence is at the vanguard of the sector’s evolution as it launches into new areas such as smart cities and the Internet of Things (IoT). The strategic action plan Micro PACA 2020 encourages innovation among start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses, with a focus on companies working in emerging areas such as fabless design with outsourced manufacturing, More than Moore systems that aim to surpass accepted limits for chip transistor capacity, research into next generation materials and components, and the expansion of microchip use into new products.

Key Figures from the Microelectronics and IoT sector in Provence

  • #1 region in France in the volume of production of electronic components
  • More than 100 companies, including 60 based in the Bouches-du-Rhône department
  • Close to 10 000 jobs linked to the sector, including 2 800 design engineers and 700 researchers
  • 13 research and teaching centers, including 5 in the Bouches-du-Rhône
  • An extensive network of start-ups and small and medium-sized business that accounts for 75% of actors in the local IoT industry
  • 103 different training and education programs that bring together more than 2 000 students

Provence’s Microelectronics and IoT Advantage

> A network dedicated to helping companies fulfill their R&D potential

- The Secured Communicating Solutions (SCS) competiveness cluster supports the development of innovative projects. To foster cooperation, idea sharing, and joint projects, the cluster brings together members of the contactless technology sector, M2M and mobile services business networks, and digital security and identity companies.

- The Association for the Research on Components and Secured Integrated Systems (ARCSIS) is dedicated to microelectronics and semi-conductor activities and participates in assuring the sustainability, full economic development, and enhanced competitiveness of the regional industry. It works with major companies, small and medium-sized businesses, and research laboratories, and the association created the Center of Integrated Microelectronics of PACA (CIM PACA), a collaborative research and development structure that has three platforms:

  • A "Design" platform to support the electronic chip designers that are at the heart of the secured communicating objects market
  • A "Characterization" platform that supports new processes in chip development and manufacturing
  • The Micropackaging and Security or “Micro-PackS” platform that supports the integration of chips into the secured communicating objects

- The National RFID Centre (CNRFID) encourages the adoption and use of contactless technology and provides financial and technical support for projects. It also offers experimental and test platforms for new smart objects at the Connectwave center in Rousset and the soon-to-open La Coque in Marseille.

- The Centre de Microélectronique de Provence in Gardanne is dedicated to exploring new microelectronics technology for innovative applications. It is one of six training and research centers in the Ecole des mines de Saint-Etienne network. The center provides technical facilities such as a clean room, testing platforms, and research laboratories and it also has space for start-up companies that are in the development phase.


> A broad pool of talent and emerging expertise

- Provence is home to several specialized engineering schools including:

  • Marseille: Centrale, Polytech-ESIL, Epitech, Sup info, ESIMED
  • Gardanne: Ecole des Mines de Saint Etienne
  • Aix-en-Provence: Cesi, Ingésup, ENSAM

- Aix-Marseille University also feature Master’s programs dedicated to the sector:

  • Master’s in Micro and Nanoelectronics
  • Master’s in Mathematical Engineering and Modeling
  • Master’s in Images and Systems
  • Master’s in Computing including specialties in Reliability, Security, and Software Integration (FSIL), Software Engineering (GL), and Business Intelligence (ID)


> Spaces that foster urban innovation

- TheCamp in Aix-en-Provence: an international campus dedicated to innovation with a specialized accelerator program for businesses in the smart city sector.

- Euroméditerranée in Marseille: Southern Europe’s largest renewal program features two eco-developments (Smartseille by Eiffage and Ilot XXL by Bouygues) that provide cutting edge spaces ideally suited for IoT and Smart City projects linked to sustainable development.