£50m for Cardiff Compound Semiconductor Catapult

8 January 2016

George Osbourne looking through a microscope
George Osbourne

Chancellor George Osborne announces major funding boost

A new £50m UK national Catapult to develop and build next generation Compound Semiconductor (CS) technologies will be spearheaded by Cardiff University and Cardiff-based CS specialists IQE.     

Announcing the £50m funding following a visit to Cardiff University, Chancellor George Osborne said the investment will create a new CS hub of excellence in South Wales as part of a UK network of Research and Development Catapults.

In a speech to Cardiff’s business leaders, Chancellor George Osborne said: “Wales is an innovative nation. The UK national centre in South Wales will develop compound semiconductors that are at the heart of modern technology. It will bring together scientists and businesses with expertise. It will create jobs and bring investment.”

IQE and Cardiff University have already established the Compound Semiconductor Centre, which will form the powerhouse for the new Catapult. The partnership will help transform leading edge research at Cardiff University’s new Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) – to be built on the University’s new £300m Innovation Campus – into 21st Century technologies and products.

Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor Cardiff University, said: "The announcement is excellent news for innovation, industry and enterprise in South Wales and beyond. It offers a real opportunity for Cardiff University and IQE to help establish Europe's first Compound Semiconductor cluster and create a world-class powerhouse to develop and commercialise next generation technologies."

Dr Drew Nelson, Chief Executive of IQE said: “The launch of the £50m catapult is fantastic news for high-level manufacturing in Wales and for the Welsh economy. The funding provides an excellent opportunity to launch the first Compound Semiconductor hub of its kind in Europe, taking great academic research and seamlessly turning it into high-volume manufacturing, securing a global industrial and manufacturing platform for Wales and the UK.”

Welsh Government Economy and Science Minister, Edwina Hart, welcomed the £50m investment.

“Compound semiconductors are the future key enabling technology driving advances across technologies including smart phones, solar energy, healthcare and transport.

“The funding will help create a compound semiconductor industry cluster of European scale and global reach in South Wales, and represents a real vote of confidence in Wales’ universities, its semiconductor businesses and skills base.”

The Catapult is the culmination of two years’ negotiations between Welsh and UK Governments, Innovate UK, IQE and the semiconductor sector in South Wales and Cardiff University.

In November, the Welsh Government announced a £12m funding package to support the construction, fit-out, and purchase of capital equipment for Cardiff University’s Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS). The UK’s Research Council Partnership Investment Fund has invested £17.3m to support the Institute.

Last year one of the world’ s leading experts in CS technologies, Professor Diana Huffaker, was appointed to lead a new research laboratory at Cardiff University through the Welsh Government’s £50m Sêr Cymru programme.