UK Invests £22 Million in Semiconductor Research Hubs

The UK government has allocated £22 million in funding to establish two pioneering semiconductor research hubs in Bristol and Southampton

In a significant stride towards fostering technological advancement, the UK government has allocated £22 million in funding to establish two pioneering semiconductor research hubs in Bristol and Southampton. Each receiving £11 million, these “Innovation and Knowledge Centres” are poised to spearhead research initiatives aimed at propelling semiconductor technologies into the market.

The cornerstone of this initiative lies in bridging the gap between cutting-edge research and practical applications. The hubs will provide vital support mechanisms, including training for spinouts, workshops, and facilitating collaborations among industry stakeholders. This collaborative approach is envisioned to accelerate the commercialization of semiconductor innovations, thus catalyzing transformative changes within the industry.

In Southampton, the focus will be on silicon photonics, a groundbreaking approach that utilizes light waves instead of electrical currents to transmit information. Led by Professor Graham Reed, the Cornerstone centre aims to unite entrepreneurs and researchers, leveraging the UK’s expertise in silicon photonics to drive industry-wide advancements.

Meanwhile, the REWIRE facility in Bristol will concentrate on wide/ultra-wide bandgap compound semiconductors. These materials exhibit superior capabilities, operating at higher temperatures and voltages compared to conventional silicon, thus holding immense potential for applications in energy sectors such as the electrical grid and electric vehicles. Professor Martin Kuball, leading the Bristol facility, emphasizes the pivotal role of power devices in enhancing the efficiency and compactness of power electronic systems.

The government’s commitment extends beyond the establishment of these hubs, with an additional £4.8 million allocated for 11 semiconductor skills projects across the UK. This initiative seeks to address the talent gap within the semiconductor industry, nurturing a skilled workforce equipped to drive innovation and sustain growth.

Saqib Bhatti, the Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, lauds the investment as a crucial step towards realizing the UK’s ambitions in the semiconductor industry. Emphasizing the strategic importance of these centers, Bhatti envisions them as catalysts for breakthrough innovations, positioning the UK as a global hub of technological innovation with far-reaching impacts across sectors.

However, the UK’s semiconductor strategy has drawn mixed responses from the tech industry. While hailed as a significant investment, some stakeholders express disappointment in comparison to other nations’ initiatives, such as the US CHIPS Act, which dwarfs the UK’s funding with $52.7 billion in government support.

Nevertheless, the establishment of these research hubs signifies a concrete step towards bolstering the UK’s semiconductor ecosystem and reinforcing its position on the global innovation landscape.

This funding announcement coincides with the one-year anniversary of the creation of the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology (DSIT), underscoring the government’s steadfast commitment to fostering technological excellence and driving economic growth through innovation.

In conclusion, the allocation of £22 million towards semiconductor research hubs underscores the UK government’s proactive stance in advancing technological frontiers. With a focus on collaboration, innovation, and talent development, these hubs are poised to catalyze transformative changes, propelling the UK to the forefront of semiconductor innovation on the global stage.