Keywords: microelectronics, nomadism, territorial anchoring, proximity, France, Marseilles Metropolitan Area, cluster
Birth of a cluster: the microelectronics industry in the Marseilles Metropolitan Area
In this paper, we describe the emergence and the build-up up of an industrial and technological fabric in the microelectronics field, in the Marseilles Metropolitan Area, in the South of France. The origin of the process is the location of a new enterprise, called Eurotechnique, at Rousset in 1979, as a joint venture of the French industrial and financial group Saint-Gobain and the US National Semiconductors. This implantation has been done in the framework of a national industrial policy, without any consideration or relationship to local scientific and technological potential. This enterprise was integrated in 1983 into the structure of Thomson-Composants, semiconductor branch of the public industrial group Thomson CSF before the merger with the Italian SGS-Ates, giving rise to SGS-Thomson in 1987. After a period characterised by the creation of new small enterprises through spin-off operations, a serious crisis at the end of the 1980s led local actors to realise the weak territorial anchoring of the activity. The mobilisation of new institutional initiatives aimed at fostering cooperation between complementary competencies and the success of Gemplus, in the field of smart cards, have initiated the emergence of innovation networks on a territorial basis. This new dynamic issuing from the valorisation of proximity effects is likely to counteract the intrinsic inclination to nomadism in the microelectronics industry.