MCC Strategic Technology Tour to Europe: MEMS andMicrosystems in Europe (March 1999)

The benchmarking team that conducted the MCC/WTEC StrategicTechnology Tour (STT) to Europe in MEMS and Microsystems assembled in late 1998 andundertook preliminary planning over the period January to March 1999. The STT team madesite visits March 20 – 31, 1999 in Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and theNetherlands. This was the twelfth strategic technology tour (STT) organized by MCC GlobalTechnology Services, and the first executed in collaboration with the World TechnologyEvaluation Center (WTEC).

Objectives of the Strategic Technology Tour to Europe

The major objectives of this Strategic Technology Tour to Europewere as follows:

  1. To engage leading European research groups in discussion on key trends and issues in MEMS and microsystems
  2. To identify and assess the state-of-the-art and the state-of-the-practice in MEMS and microsystems domains of high interest to MCC members and U.S. industry
  3. To record and report STT findings to MCC and WTEC audiences
  4. To establish individual contacts within European organizations that provide basis for future engagement

As is true of all MCC strategic technology tours, the STT in Europewas conducted as a team effort. Staff members from MCC Global Technology Services and theMCC technical staff were joined by representatives from MCC members Eastman Kodak, HewlettPackard, HRL Laboratories, Honeywell Technology Center, Nortel Networks, and TexasInstruments. For a full list of the team members, with detail on their backgrounds, seeAppendix 1 of this report.

Financial support for the conduct of the STT to Europe in MEMS andMicrosystems was provided by the World Technology Evaluation Center (WTEC) at LoyolaCollege with NSF funding, as well as by participating MCC member firms.

Structure of the MCC Strategic Technology Tour Program

The MCC Strategic Technology Tour Program is coordinated by MCCGlobal Technology Services. As an R&D consortium operating in microelectronics andsoftware, the core business activity at MCC is the organization and conduct of consortialR&D projects. To complement this R&D program, MCC Global Technology Services worksto infuse the MCC R&D program with an international awareness, as well as to informour North American member companies of key developments in R&D and emerging technologymarkets offshore. In this context, we use the strategic technology tour as a mechanism tobring the expertise of managers and technical staff in our member companies to bear in theprocess of exploring and analyzing global developments in information technology.

Strategic technology tours, which MCC Global Technology Servicesinitiated in late 1993, are multi-firm data gathering and consortial benchmarkingactivities in which small groups of researchers and technical managers from North Americanmember companies in the MCC consortium conduct an intensive series of site visits toleading R&D organizations in Europe or Asia. MCC Global Technology Services currentlyorganizes several Strategic Technology Tours per year, with the target technology domainsidentified in consultation with MCC member firms and MCC management.

To compose a strategic technology tour team, MCC Global TechnologyServices recruits a group of 5-10 researchers, technical managers, and strategic plannersfrom MCC member firms who share a compelling interest in the target technology. GlobalTechnology Services then arranges a 7-10 day series of site visits with private-sectorfirms, national laboratories, and sometimes universities that are conducting leading-edgework in the target domain in Europe or Asia.

The general purposes of an MCC strategic technology tour are:

  1. To develop an overall picture of R&D activity in the target technology domain in the region visited;
  2. To secure a detailed understanding of the capabilities and activities of the host companies visited, through a set of mutual presentations and discussion;
  3. To establish human contacts within the host organizations which may lead to continuing dialog, as well as to joint R&D or business activities;
  4. To discuss with other team members the significance of STT findings, to generate a formal report of findings, and to explore possibilities for follow-on consortial work.

While by its structure, the strategic technology tour has a clearemphasis on identifying the state-of-the-art and the state-of-the-practice overseas in thetarget technology domain, we find that considerable value emerges from the focusedopportunity that team members have to discuss technical issues and opportunities withinthe team itself.

Over the last five years, MCC Global Technology Services has ledtwelve of these strategic technology tours on topics as diverse as low-voltage devicetechnology (Japan); software engineering and software process improvement (both Japan andEurope, in separate tours); mobile telecommunications and nomadic computing (again, twotours, one to Japan/Hong Kong, and one to Europe); and software outsourcing and contractsoftware development (India). The March 1999 MCC/WTEC Strategic Technology Tour to Europein MEMS and Microsystems was the most recent in this series of STTs.

For further information about the MCC Strategic Technology TourProgram, contact Howard Curtis (Tel. 512-338-3792; Fax 512-338-3898; E-mail: Information about upcoming tours may befound on the MCC Web site (, underGlobal Technology Services. Further information on WTEC is available on the Web at