LONDON—Picture a young company, incorporated in Luxembourg and headquartered in Munich, that conducts research in Britain, France, and West Germany, manufactures its high-tech product in France, has offices in six European countries, and owns a subsidiary in San Jose, Calif. Corporate Europe after 1992? sure but for at least one European startup, it’s a reality of today.

European Silicon Structures (ES2) is one of the first pan-European companies: a company without a country. Or, perhaps more correctly, a company with many countries.

Launched in 1985, ES2’s charter was to become a major player in the European integrated chip market. Advent Ltd., a London-based venture capital firm, liked the idea. It seeded ES2 with about $5 million. ES2 co-chairman Robert Heikes and his colleagues then gathered another $60 million from eight European corporations, including Italy’s Olivetti, Sweden’s Saab, the U.K.’s British Aerospace, and the Netherlands’ Philips. That, says Heikes, makes ES2...

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