A new semiconductor research centre will be established in Wales, UK Chancellor George Osborne has announced, aiming to bring academia and businesses together to push boundaries of technology development.
Speaking during a visit to Cardiff ahead of the May elections to the Welsh Assembly, Osborne promised to commit £50m over the next five years towards the new centre.
“I'm committing £10m this year and every year for the rest of the decade - £50m in total - so that we build the future of our technology right here in Wales," Osborne said.
The new centre will be part of the network of the so called ‘catapult’ research centres that aim to ‘transform the UK’s capability for innovation’.
The new semiconductor technology catapult, to be headquartered at Cardiff University, will be the first such centre in Wales.
The undertaking is backed by semiconductor wafer products manufacturer IQE, which earlier this year signed a partnership with Cardiff University focused on compound semiconductor research.
The centre will be based at the new Institute for Compound Semiconductors at Cardiff University’s Innovation Campus and will draw from the experience of the university’s researchers.
"The announcement is excellent news for innovation, industry and enterprise in South Wales and beyond,” said Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University. “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."
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.
"Compound semiconductors are the future key enabling technology driving advances across technologies including smart phones, energy, healthcare and transport,” said Edwina Hart, Welsh Government Economy and Science Minister.
“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."