Wednesday, June 19, 2024

UK Semiconductor Institute a ‘positive step’ for chip sector

Must read

The UK is launching a new independent semiconductor group to connect industry, academia and the government.

The UK Semiconductor Institute will act as a “single point of contact” for the sector at a time when nations are ramping up support for chips, the components underpinning many of the world’s electronics.

The new institute will focus on bringing in specialist skills, equipping the sector with the right tools and infrastructure, and providing market readiness support to chip companies.

UKTN understands that the UK Semiconductor Institute is targeting an autumn launch, with an interim CEO set to initially take charge.

It comes one year on from the publication of the long-awaited semiconductor strategy, which promises funding of up to £1bn to the sector over the next decade.

The strategy received a mixed response from the UK tech industry, with some describing the funding as “disappointing” when compared to other nations such as the US CHIPS Act, which provides $52.7bn in government support.

Since then, the government has created the Semiconductor Advisory Panel and diverted £4.8m to chip skills projects across the UK, along with £22m across two research hubs in Southampton and Bristol.

In March, the UK joined the Chips Joint Undertaking, giving companies access to a €1.3bn funding pot following the country’s rejoining of Horizon Europe, the EU initiative it left after Brexit.

The UK Semiconductor Institute has been welcomed by the Chips Coalition, a lobby group established last year.

“The Chips Coalition looks forward to continuing to engage with the government in this endeavour and to witnessing the positive impact this Institute will have on the UK’s growth,” said Julian David, CEO of trade association techUK, one of the members of the coalition.

Jalal Bagherli, co-chair of the Semiconductor Advisory Panel, the current conduit between the government and industry, said the new institute is a “very positive step in advancing the UK semiconductor strategy”.

The chief executive of Pragmatic, a semiconductor company that previously indicated it might move to the US if the government did not support the industry, also welcomed the new institute.

“The institute represents a significant opportunity for building out new infrastructure in support of areas where the UK can lead on the global stage, including advanced materials and disruptive, new approaches to semiconductor manufacturing at scale,” said David Moore, CEO of Pragmatic.

Last December, Pragmatic secured a £182m investment to fund the expansion of its manufacturing facilities.

“Semiconductors underpin all the technology that keeps our economy moving,” said Technology Minister Saqib Bhatti. “Our strategy set out that we would grow the sector and make it resilient by focussing on what the British chip sector does best.”

Bhatti added that the UK Semiconductor Institute will “unify the semiconductor sector to focus our talented researchers on securing our status at the cutting edge of semiconductor science”.

Latest article