Closely connected with research
AIXTRON SE is a market leader in the MOVPE-conditioning market for compound semiconductors. The company is already present and successful in 14 countries across the globe. But what makes AIXTRON so unique and how does the company manages to maintain its role as a leader? In speaking with Dr. Bernd Schulte, COO at AIXTRON, we wanted to learn more about the corporate culture, how the company has preserved is competitiveness despite increased competition and what its experience in the realm of internationalization has been.
GSC: Last year, AIXTRON celebrated its 30 year anniversary. Since its founding in 1983, the company has expanded all over the globe and received many accolades for its innovations. AIXTRON has also supported multiple Noble Prize winners in their research. "We take progress personally," boasts your website. How does this mentality of focusing on progress and pushing boundaries present itself in the day-to-day operations of the company?
Dr. Bernd Schulte: At AIXTRON, we try to make our products a little bit better every day and thus to progressively provide for the possibility of new applications as a result of the breakthroughs we discover. Innovation is our key driver. We constantly strive to develop the best solution for our customers' needs; we are satisfied only when all requirements are met and every detail is right.
GSC: AIXTRON was the very first supplier of MOCVD systems, a crucial component of many microelectronic and optoelectronic production technologies. These systems continue to play an important role in modern-day, cutting-edge technologies like LED lights and solar cells. What steps does AIXTRON take to make sure its products are keeping up with today's technological advancements and that they are superior to competitors' products?
Dr. Bernd Schulte: As a spin-off of the RWTH Aachen, research and development are crucial parts of AIXTRON. For many years we have been closely linked with numerous leading universities and scientists worldwide in the field of semiconductor research, so we always are on the cutting edge of research. In addition, we are currently investing about a third of our annual revenue, nearly 60 million euros, into the research, development and improvement of our technologies and processes. This also helps us to be closer to our customers, whose feedback on the daily use of our technologies is extremely important to us. We incorporate this feedback with careful consideration into the further development of our systems.
GSC: AIXTRON has training, research and development laboratories in Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. How does having so many facilities in so many different parts of the world foster and advance innovation within the company?
Dr. Bernd Schulte: At AIXTRON we combine the key skills of three major global technology centers. The semiconductor production processes, which represent groundbreaking innovations for the whole industry, come from Silicon Valley in America. The competence in the area of materials science comes from Cambridge in England, and expertise in the fields of mechanical engineering and process technology is led by us here in Germany. This knowledge is shared, combined and developed within the group through the constant exchange of information. So we can, for example, use technological knowledge from the silicon industry for our MOCVD equipment and pass on specific engineering knowledge to our British colleagues.
In our training lab in China, the focus is on training our Asian customers. This area is an imporant focus point for the semiconductor industry as it is the center of the global LED industry. Through close contact with many of our key customers there, we can remain informed about new market trends and can take into account the relevant requirements in the development of innovative products.
GSC: When opening facilities in other countries, how does AIXTRON navigate the various domestic laws and logistical challenges when it comes to securing talent to staff these locations, whether that means bringing German-based employees abroad or finding local skilled workers instead?
Dr. Bernd Schulte: The branches of AIXTRON are almost entirely led by colleagues from the respective countries. They usually know the regional markets and also are well connected to and familiar with the business and legal practices on site. AIXTRON prefers to recruit its employees from the location at hand and therefore its USA, UK and China locations all have their own human resources departments, which represent the company at relevant trade fairs and events as well as assume the associated administrative tasks. However the sending of employees abroad to our worldwide offices as well as the temporary transfer of employees to Germany is a regular occurrence for us as well.
More information: www.aixtron.com