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University welcomes £38m Compound Semiconductor deal

8 May 2017

Nearly £38m is being invested in a new Foundry for Compound Semiconductor (CS) technologies by the ten councils in the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.

Cardiff University has welcomed the local authorities’ decision to support the development of a CS cluster in Wales.

The funding agreement is the first since the £1.2 billion City Deal was formally signed in March by the ten local authorities.

The £37.9m investment will create a state-of-the-art facility in the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) for Compound Semiconductor applications development and high volume manufacturing, helping to establish the world’s first CS Cluster in Wales.

Owned by the 10 councils, the Foundry will lease space to CS manufacturing and applications development companies. Discussions on site location are on-going. The project is expected to leverage up to £365m of private sector investment over the next five years.

"A world-class powerhouse"

Professor Colin Riordan, Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University said: “Compound Semiconductors are at the heart of our everyday lives, and are found in everything from phones and tablets to satellite communications and laser technologies."

"The University has invested millions of pounds in partnership with IQE, and today’s announcement is excellent news for innovation, industry and enterprise in South Wales and beyond."

Professor Colin Riordan President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University

"It offers a real opportunity to build Europe's first Compound Semiconductor applications cluster and create a world-class powerhouse to commercialise next generation technologies."

The CCR City Deal seeks to position the region as the European leader in Compound Semiconductor enabled applications. In 2016, Innovate UK – the UK Government’s innovation agency – announced a £50m investment to establish a new Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult in Wales, located in the CCR. It builds on existing expertise and investment by Cardiff University, IQE plc, and Welsh Government.

South Wales supply chain

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, and Chair of the City Deal Regional Cabinet, said: “The objective of these commitments is to create a complete compound semiconductor eco-system in South Wales to take advantage of the growing prominence of compound semiconductor technologies. This requires the development and integration of a compound semiconductor supply chain in South Wales, with the economic and social benefits that will bring.”

Councillor Peter Fox, Leader of Monmouthshire County Council (the Council leading the project) and Councillor Anthony Hunt, Leader of Torfaen County Borough Council, who co-leads on CCR City Deal’s business and innovation portfolio, said: “There are semiconductor clusters across Europe, around Eindhoven, Dresden, Leuven and Grenoble. However, these are based on silicon technologies, hence this is a unique opportunity for Wales to establish the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster.”

Dr Drew Nelson, Chief Executive of IQE plc said: “We are very impressed to see Council Leaders with the vision to make investments like this."

"IQE already has a very strong presence here, and is looking to invest in building significant additional production capacity as part of this deal over the next 5 years. Our investment will see the next stage of our growth firmly rooted in CCR."

Dr Drew Nelson Chief Executive Officer, IQE plc

Kevin Crofton, Chairman of the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, said: “We are delighted to be associated with such a bold venture. It is not often that the opportunity presents to be in at the start of something with international credentials; we very much feel that about this project."

It is hoped construction work will start in the early summer 2017.

Find out more about the Institute for Compound Semiconductors.