Britain Joins Semiconductor Chips Race, Introduces $1.2B Plan

Britain Joins Semiconductor Chips Race, Introduces $1.2B Plan

UTC by Bhushan Akolkar · 3 min read
Britain Joins Semiconductor Chips Race, Introduces $1.2B Plan
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The British government has undertaken a focused approach in revamping its semiconductor industry and will capitalize on its strengths such as designing and producing non-silicon chips, and intellectual property rights. 

On Friday, May 19, Great Britain announced support of £1 billion ($1.2 billion) for its semiconductor industry. With this move, the United Kingdom joins the race with the US and EU to boost its domestic chipmaking capabilities and reduce its dependence on foreign players.

The investment is part of the country’s 20-year strategy for semiconductors, after facing lengthy delays in the past. Furthermore, it also outlines UK’s plan to secure its chip supplies as well as protect against other national security risks.

The strategy revealed on Friday, includes a range of measures which will offer a boost to Britain’s domestic chip sector. Additionally, it will also provide national security while mitigating the risk of supply chain disruptions. Also, with this move, the UK plans to increase cooperation with international partners.

Earlier this week, the UK struck a deal with Japan to boost the collaboration between the two nations for semiconductors and defense. Over the next two years between 2023-2025, the British government plans to invest £200 million and expand its commitment to £1 billion over the span of the next decade.

The funding will also help in improving the talent pipeline along with offering access to prototyping, tools, as well as business support. Speaking on the development, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement:

“Semiconductors underpin the devices we use every day and will be crucial to advancing the technologies of tomorrow. Our new strategy focuses our efforts on where our strengths lie, in areas like research and design, so we can build our competitive edge on the global stage. By increasing the capabilities and resilience of our world-leading semiconductor industry, we will grow our economy, create new jobs and stay at the forefront of new technological breakthroughs.”

Capitalizing on Their Expertise

The UK has established an advisory panel comprising industry, government, and academia figures to collaborate on shared solutions and implementation. Instead of taking the route of mega-spending commitments as in the case of the US and EU, the UK shall take a different approach to boost the areas where its expertise lies.

The UK has no plans to build massive semiconductor plants like the ones created by Taiwan’s chipmaking giant TSMC. Instead, it will focus on other parts of the semiconductor industry such as designing and producing non-silicon chips, and intellectual property rights.

The UK was to release its semiconductor strategy last year, however, it faced a series of delays amid the political instability in the country. On the other hand, the US and the EU have been already pledging billions of dollars.

Britain is a key player in the global chip market, focusing on design, intellectual property, research, and advanced compound semiconductor fabrication. It possesses valuable semiconductor assets, including the highly sought-after chip designer Arm, which is based in Cambridge and licenses chips used in approximately 95% of the world’s smartphones. Additionally, the country has made significant contributions to the development of ultra-thin semiconductor wafers using graphene.

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