Government boosts chip strategy with increased funding

The government has announced that it will provide £16.6m in funding for the development of semiconductors used in electric cars and the green energy industry. The funding will support semiconductor researchers and businesses by giving them access to new equipment to test and produce chips for high-energy machines. Specifically, £14m will be allocated to semiconductors used in “power electronics,” which involve the conversion and control of power in energy-intensive machinery such as electric vehicles and manufacturing equipment.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) stated that the funding will enable researchers and businesses to test new innovations in power electronics and enhance their semiconductor packaging processes. By encouraging innovations in advanced packaging, the investment aims to reduce the power consumption and cooling requirements of semiconductors.

Technology minister Saqib Bhatti highlighted the importance of the investment in open-access technology, stating it would enable British researchers to rapidly turn semiconductor science into business reality while making energy-intensive sectors more sustainable.

The open-access tools provided through the funding will cover various processes involved in designing and testing semiconductors, such as slicing silicon wafers and bonding materials to create chips. Additionally, the funding will also support manufacturers in improving the technology used for automated assembly processes.

While recent funding boosts have been announced to strengthen the UK’s semiconductor sector, they are significantly lower than the amounts allocated in the US and European Union. In March, the UK joined the Chips Joint Undertaking (Chips JU), which provides access to a €1.3bn funding pot for collaborative semiconductor research projects. In February, two Innovation and Knowledge Centres were established, and £4.8m was allocated for semiconductor skills projects.

However, Russ Shaw of Tech London Advocates believes that more funding is needed. Shaw emphasizes the importance of looking at the entire semiconductor value chain and suggests that major funding may be released if large semiconductor businesses show interest in participating. He also urges the government to focus on attracting talented individuals from around the world to study and contribute to the semiconductor sector in the UK.

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