A Cardiff University-led consortium has won a £43.7m bid to develop a Compound Semiconductor (CS) powerhouse in South Wales.
Government funding provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund will build a world-leading cluster of excellence in CS technologies – CSconnected – bringing economic investment and high quality jobs to the region.
The winning consortium connects Cardiff University, Swansea University, a range of key regional industrial partners including IQE, SPTS, Newport Wafer Fab (NWF), Cardiff Capital Region City Deal Welsh Government and UK Government’s Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult.
Lead author of the SIPF bid application, Dr Wyn Meredith, Director of Compound Semiconductor Centre – a joint venture between Cardiff University and IQE – said: “The announcement is fantastic news for Wales and the UK, providing a unique opportunity to harness the excellent research and innovation capabilities in a way that translates into world-class UK based manufacturing for new and emerging global technology markets.”
Professor Peter Smowton, Managing Director of Cardiff University’s Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) said: “We are absolutely delighted to secure this award. It will help establish CSconnected as a Europe-leading cluster that translates university research into large-scale CS growth and device fabrication. Many advances in our daily lives depend upon CS technology. This award will consolidate the consortium, allow it to continue to develop technology that enables emerging trends, such as self-drive vehicles and 5G communications and also start to address the training needs of the workforce that will develop them.”
Cardiff University is currently building a new centre to innovate CS technologies. The Translational Research Facility will be home to state-of-the-art facilities that will allow ICS academics working hand in hand with industry to develop, test and manufacture CS devices.
Professor Colin Riordan, President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University, said: “The Strength in Places funding will help CSconnected bring together combined public and private sector investment to build the CSconnected and wider supply chain, grow new companies and create high value jobs, innovation programmes and investment in skills that can help the region recover its srtrength after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
CSconnected aims to help create thousands of jobs by the establishment of a new photonics supply chain for communications and sensing markets, a new semiconductor-based photovoltaic supply chain, enabling high altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and a miniaturised semiconductor chip packaging platform for emerging applications in Power Electronics and 5G communications.
The project will create a talent pipeline that creates highly skilled, well paid jobs, bringing social and economic benefits to South Wales and includes developing a design centre and module manufacturing in the region as well as developing the next generation of semiconductor wafer fabrication toolsets with enhanced production capacity, novelty and efficiency: facilitating the development of enhanced wafer processing techniques and equipment.
The total global semiconductor market (compound semiconductors and silicon) is worth around US$350bn a year and is growing at 10-15% per annum. The compound semiconductor market is around US$30bn, but market analysts consider there to be huge growth potential in new and emerging technologies such as driverless and autonomous vehicles and in healthcare technologies.
According to analysts, global markets for compound semiconductors are projected to reach US$125 billion by 2025, with other analysts estimating the global market for compound semiconductors to grow to more than $300 billion come 2030; three times the growth rate of silicon.
CSconnected, the world’s first global center of excellence for Compound Semiconductor, is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2020 and home to a unique eco-system of high technology capability leading the way in applied research, advanced applications, collaborative innovation putting Wales and the UK at the forefront of new and emerging material and device to market.
CSconnected is a cluster of academic institutions and industry striving to connect its members, providing thought leadership and expertise to foster and promote the importance of Compound Semiconductors as a key enabling technology. Visit www.csconnected.com to learn more.