Discussion with Martin McHugh, Acting CEO and CTO, CSA Catapult
2020 will surely be seen as a watershed year for humanity. COVID has forced governments and people to re-examine priorities and look to change behaviours on a fundamental level. And not a moment too soon – as many scientific and social indicators point to a conclusion that the way we live is becoming unsustainable.
There are positive forces for good working to address the profound challenges being faced by everyone on the planet – and Wales may well be leading the way in meeting those challenges. The country that pioneered the world’s first Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (passed in 2015) is also home to a world-leading Compound Semiconductor cluster, a group of companies that collaborate together under the name CSconnected, and that’s reshaping global electronics and making possible the major breakthroughs that promise a better, more sustainable way of living.
The Welsh cluster is at the heart of everything from net zero energy to 5G capability
Sat at the heart of a world-leading collaboration centred around the Imperial Park in Newport, a unique catalyst called the Catapult is helping drive the only compound semiconductor cluster of its type in the world. It offers a moment in time for Wales: the chance to capitalise on a concentration of companies that can help create the next-generation of breakthroughs across every product sector in the world. More than that, as a magnet bringing to Wales the multitude of organisations looking to embed compound semiconductors in their applications, the Catapult will play a critical role in helping Wales meet its declared ambition of creating the ‘good’ employment and sustainable economy needed for a ‘Future Generations’ society.
The future is already here – and it’s being made in Wales
Martin McHugh, CEO/CTO of the Catapult, takes up the story:
“The future is being built here in the Welsh cluster ecosystem. Wherever you look – from hitting our net zero energy targets by 2050, bringing the 5G infrastructure that Wales desperately needs, getting the percentage of R&D up to 2.4% GDP, or even creating better employment and enabling our universities improve their Russell Group ratings – the compound semiconductor cluster is making that happen. We’re also developing the technologies to deliver everything from radically more effective healthcare to massively more efficient electric cars. So you could say the future is already here; and it’s being made in Wales.”
We’ve committed to our schools, universities and future generations
Look at any Welsh and UK government target for sustainability and the work of the compound semiconductor cluster is at the heart of any activity. And on the ground, the Catapult is sponsoring STEM degrees and PHDs in partnership with the UK Electronic Skills Foundation – and taking a ground-breaking STEM Academy to schools, delivering a Compound Semiconductor Kit that enables highly engaging pupil participation in the practical uses and incredible potential of Compound Semiconductors, with lessons (such as how to revolutionise healthcare) focused on bringing more female students into a traditionally male-dominated discipline.
The last words about a journey that has only just begun belong to Martin:
“They say you can’t predict the future, but we believe you can create it. We’ve glimpsed the future for Wales and the world; and we’re determined to make it happen here at the Catapult.”