£12m funding from Welsh Government supports strategy to create Europe’s first compound semiconductor cluster in Wales

A £12m funding package has been officially granted by Economy Minister Edwina Hart to support the construction, fit-out, and purchase of capital equipment for Cardiff University’s Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS).

The ICS forms part of Cardiff University’s £300m investment in new research and innovation centres and is a key element of the wider strategy to create Europe’s fifth semiconductor cluster – and the only one dedicated to compound semiconductors.

£17.3m of Research Council Partnership Investment Funding has already been secured by Cardiff University to support the Institute which will work closely with industry and take academic research to the next level.

The Institute will complement the Joint Venture between Cardiff and IQE to create a Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC) delivering commercial prototypes and pilot lines. CSC, to be formally launched at events in London (18 November) and Cardiff Castle (26 November), will be Europe’s first prototyping facility. It will link academic research to industrial exploitation allowing rapid routes to market for entrepreneurs and technology leaders.

Compound semiconductors are the key enabling technology driving advances in a host of areas ranging from wireless technology and smart phones to solar energy and the development of concentrated photovoltaic power stations; from healthcare for new imaging devices, diagnostics and wearable health products to transport and electric propulsion and regenerative breaking.

The Minister said:

“The significance of our investment in the Institute for Compound Semiconductor Technology should not be underestimated. Our support has been widely recognised by external bodies as the catalyst for developing this compound semiconductor industry cluster of European scale and global reach which will create critical mass in the supply chain.

“The Institute forms a cornerstone of what will be a truly transformational project and ensure Wales has the recognition it deserves as a leader in this exciting, disruptive, smart specialisation technology.”

Professor Hywel Thomas, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Engagement, said:

“The granting of the funding package is a major step in the development of both the Institute for Compound Semiconductors and a cluster for Compound Semiconductor expertise led jointly by IQE and Cardiff University.

“State of the art facilities funded by Welsh Government will be harnessed by some of the world’s leading CS researchers to develop 21st Century technologies with the power to change the way we live.”

Together, the ICS, the Joint Venture, and IQE’s existing operation in Cardiff will establish the core elements of a Compound Semiconductor ecosystem in Wales to bridge early stage research, product development, prototyping, and pilot production, through to high volume manufacturing.