Cardiff University semiconductor facility to get £13 million in EU funding

A £13 million EU funding boost is to help Cardiff University develop its new semiconductor facility, Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has announced.

The university will use the money to develop, equip and run a state-of-the-art cleanroom facility within the recently opened Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS).

Based at the Cardiff University Innovation Campus, the ICS was set up to turn laboratory research into leading tech products and services. It aims to become a leader in semiconductors.

Compound semiconductor technologies, which combine physical and chemical properties, have played an important role in the development of smartphones, tablets and satellite communications.

The funding comes as Cardiff University has been working with IQE as well as the Welsh and UK Government to turn South Wales into a hub of CS expertise.

The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund and the Welsh Government have made financial awards of £17.3 million and £12 million to support the development of the ICS facility.

Mark Drakeford, the Welsh Government’s finance secretary, said it’s vital that organisations invest in facilities such as the ICS to bring new opportunities to Wales.

“Investing in world leading facilities so that academia and industry can collaborate and drive forward research in this sector will be an important boost to the Welsh economy,” he said.

“This EU funding will encourage high quality well-paid employment in the participating companies and the creation of spin-out companies, new start-ups as well as attracting innovative CS companies from across the UK and Europe, all adding to increased growth and prosperity in the region.”

Professor Colin Riordan, vice chancellor of Cardiff University, said: “This EU funding is a vital component in our bid to generate prosperity in South Wales through industrial innovation.

“By investing in high quality facilities and talented researchers, and by building long-standing commercial partnerships, Cardiff University’s Innovation System will help deliver prosperity for Wales.”

Dr Drew Nelson, CEO of IQE Plc, has been working with the university on the new semiconductor facility. He believes that Wales has the ability to become a leader in the development of the area.

“The role of compound semiconductors as an enabling technology for a wide range of next generation applications from high-speed communications to autonomous vehicles, is widely acknowledged worldwide,” he said.

“In Europe, Wales is uniquely positioned with a critical mass of compound semiconductor expertise to exploit the enormous commercial opportunities that will doubtlessly be generated.

“Today’s announcement of £13M investment by WEFO significantly adds weight and credibility to Wales becoming a global hub in this key enabling technology that will drive innovation over the coming years and decades.”