| PRAGUE, The Czech Republic -- STMicroelectronics' fastest growing design and application center is not in China, India, Singapore or Taiwan -- it's in The Czech Republic. |
In just over a year STMicroelectronics NV has moved from employing 10 people here to 170. That makes the Prague IP Design Factory, ST's fastest growing design and application center, and one that the company intends to grow to 250 people by the end of 2004.
It is already the largest individual design group in Eastern Europe excluding Russia, ST reckons.
"It provides application support for European customers, and performs design in high-performance linear circuits and in automotive products," said Carlo Bozotti, corporate vice president at ST and general manager of the memory product group. "The students and engineers have a good background in analog in the Czech Republic.
As such STMicro and Prague are confirming a trend that is likely to accelerate with the accession to the European Union of ten countries from the east of the continent. Whereas in the 1990s the low-cost of labor made these places attractive locations for assembly work and contract manufacturing, the trend is for that work to move further east to China and southeast Asia, while the European Union's new states, particularly Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary try to get their well educated but underemployed work force engaged in design work.
When asked if ST would seek to open up in these other countries, Bozotti said: "In the short-term we will grow this center."