UK headlines: “The Government today (Friday 19 May) unveiled a new 20-year plan to ensure the UK’s semiconductor industry remains a world leader.” A cash injection should help British companies in three areas:
Growth of domestic sector Mitigation of risk of supply chain disruptions Protection of national security
However, the announcement is still vague and the planned funding amounts are anything but high. Great Britain wants to invest just up to one billion pounds, the equivalent of 1.15 billion euros, in the next decade, 200 million of them by the end of 2025.
The announcement is no coincidence: the EU recently passed its own Chips Act, the US Chips Act came before that, and the equivalent of hundreds of billions of euros are also being invested in Asia. If the EU Chips Act, with its budget of 43 billion euros, seems small in an international comparison, the British plan is not much more than a drop in the ocean.
To show the dimensions: With a billion pounds you can at best subsidize half a modern semiconductor plant. The British government is obviously also aware of this and is not even trying to lure contract chip manufacturers to its own island.
Focus on research and development
Instead, it wants to encourage research and development in semiconductors: “The strategy focuses on the UK’s particular strategic advantages in the semiconductor sector – semiconductor design, cutting-edge compound semiconductors and our world-leading ecosystem for research and development – supported by British universities from Cambridge to Cardiff and Manchester to Edinburgh, which are world leaders in this area.”
Compound semiconductors are semiconductors composed of the main chemical group III (earth metals/boron group) and V (nitrogen-phosphorus group). They are used, for example, in light-emitting diodes and in solar cell research. When it comes to classic silicon semiconductors, Great Britain is left behind – there are only small semiconductor plants with outdated exposure technology on the island.
More specifically in the fall
As a first step, Great Britain is establishing a National Semiconductor Infrastructure Initiative and the UK Semiconductor Advisory Panel with members from the semiconductor industry, government and universities. They are intended to advise companies on semiconductor security and make it easier for start-ups to access software tools for chip development.
The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology is due to present a report in autumn on how the initiative could be implemented.
In addition, Great Britain wants to cooperate more closely with other countries in research. The USA, Japan and South Korea are mentioned, but not the EU. Meanwhile, the processor manufacturer ARM is likely to be a big beneficiary – accordingly, ARM boss Rene Haas is pleased about the announcement: “We look forward to working with the government and other partners to achieve this goal.”
To home page