Will the UK benefit from the European Chips Act?

Interesting article in the Economist this week talking about the new European Chips Act, which aims to inject €43bn into the european semiconductor industry.  Quite rightly, the author warns against the idea of investing in leading-edge and eye-wateringly expensive mega-fabs to compete with those in Taiwan, Korea, and the US producing high-volume components for use in laptops, phones, and tablets.  Better to build on the competitive advantages already present in Europe in advanced materials research, chip design, and processing equipment.

We have some excellent capabilities here in the UK with particular strengths around research and development of new materials, processes, and processing equipment; especially for next generation products using photonic, spintronic, flexible, and graphene based materials.

Our challenge is to make sure that the UK remains connected with the EU semiconductor ecosystem.  The continued uncertainty around the UK’s participation in the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme is not helping the situation here – it’s not just about the access to funding (which the government has announced will be underwritten by UKRI in the event of a delay to the UK joining the programme) but more the willingness and confidence of partners to engage in projects.

The UK government is currently consulting on an Advanced Materials Strategy and I hope semiconductors will form part of this.  I encourage all my friends and colleagues working in the semiconductor industry to collaborate and contribute to this – any suggestions or comments on how to best achieve this would be welcome!




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