Just weeks after formalising the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) City Deal, the CCR Cabinet made a clear statement of intent about its ambitions for the programme with a £38.5million investment to support the development of the first Compound Semiconductor industry cluster in South-East Wales.
The significant investment in IQE plc is expected to leverage up to £375million of private sector investment over the next five to ten years, and create up to 2,000 high value, high-tech jobs. Once completed, it has the potential for hundreds more jobs in the wider supply chain and cluster development.
The state-of-the-art facility, which is located in Newport, is owned by the ten councils in the region under the special purpose vehicle ‘CSC Foundry Limited’ / ‘LDC Ffowndri’ and the space leased to IQE plc for compound semiconductor manufacturing and applications development, helping with the establishment of the world’s first Compound Semiconductor Cluster.
The CCR City Deal seeks to position the region as the global leader in compound semiconductor-enabled applications, which was initiated by investments of £45 million from UK Government and a £12 million investment from the Welsh Government to create the Institute of Compound Semiconductors, a Cardiff University facility dedicated to research and development.
In 2016, Innovate UK – the UK Government’s innovation agency – announced a £50million investment to establish a new Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult in South-East Wales. This new Catapult will build on existing investment by Cardiff University, IQE, and Welsh Government.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, and Chair of the CCR 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. This is the first tangible demonstration of this City Deal in action – sending a very clear message of a commitment to actions not words.”
Dr Drew Nelson, Chief Executive of IQE plc said:
“Compound semiconductors are rapidly defining 21 century technologies and Wales is uniquely positioned to be centre stage of this global, high-tech industry sector.
“This dedicated compound semiconductor facility between Cardiff and Newport will act as a key component of the burgeoning cluster that is already cementing Wales reputation for technology leadership.
“The initiative is a shining example of what can be achieved through collaboration. The Welsh and UK governments, along with the ten councils that form the Cardiff Capital Region, have worked closely with academic institutes and industry to build an innovation infrastructure that will support and nurture the region as a true global player in new and emerging technologies.
“The facility will become the base for a number of compound semiconductor related activities, including IQE, where we expect to rapidly expand our production capacity to meet increasing demand for our technology.”
Since the company was established more than 25 years ago, IQE has grown from a single manufacturing operation into a world-class platform, positioning itself as the leading global supplier of advanced wafer products and wafer services to the semiconductor industry.
In addition to the wafer products, IQE is also working with leading silicon chip companies to develop the next generation of technology, which will combine the scale and maturity of the silicon industry with the advanced properties of compound semiconductors.
Future initiatives can apply for funding through the CCR Wider Assessment Fund. Such applications will be subjected to significant scrutiny through a bespoke impact assessment tool, which will evaluate bids against the objectives of the City Deal.