21 December 2022
Project to explore ideas to build on UK’s strengths in design, compound semiconductors and advanced technologies
A new national institution could be established as part of plans to boost the infrastructure underpinning the UK’s industry through the government’s upcoming semiconductor strategy. The strategy will aim to “unlock the potential of British microchip businesses, support jobs and skills to grow the UK’s domestic industry and ensure a reliably supply of semiconductors”.
As part of the semiconductor strategy, the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is commissioning a research project to look into the feasibility of new national initiatives with the aim of bringing the nation’s industry together to tackle shared challenges and help businesses scale up.
With an available budget of £700,000-900,000, the project will look at whether better access to prototyping and manufacturing facilities for chip firms is needed to tackle barriers to innovation and grow the industry. It will also cover opportunities to make specialist software tools more available for start-ups and ways to develop cutting-edge packaging processes.
UK semiconductor industry revenue has grown by 95% between 2012 and 2021. The UK has established a number of major industry strengths, including in chip design, research and compound semiconductors.
“In the UK we are leading the world in areas including design and research,” reckons Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan MP. “We want to build on these successes and keep our semiconductor sector on the cutting edge,” she adds. “This study will help us meet our ambition and could lead to a new national institution and greater research facilities.”
The study will consider how to improve infrastructure in five key areas: industry coordination, silicon prototyping, open-access manufacturing for compound semiconductors, advanced packaging and intellectual property.
The results will inform how the government could deliver on some of the ambitions set out in the forthcoming semiconductor strategy, which will be published “as soon as possible” and is not dependent on the completion of the feasibility study.
The UK Government says that the proposed initiative is one of many options under consideration and does not represent the full breadth of the strategy.
The study will set out the delivery model that a national initiative could take to have the most positive impact on the industry, including whether or not the different infrastructure capabilities are centralized in one organization.