What is the project about?
The CSconnected (SIPF) is a major project within the Compound Semiconductor Cluster (CSC) in the Cardiff Capital Region and forms part of the regions strategic focus on compound semiconductors.
The CSconnected project is based around integrating research excellence from the region’s universities with the region’s unique supply chains in advanced semiconductor manufacturing.
Compound semiconductors are critical components across a wide range of new technologies, and the primary aim of the CSconnected project is to develop a competitive advantage in key enabling technologies, which will allow the UK to increase trade globally in critical sectors such as communications, 5G, autonomous and electric vehicles, and medical devices.
CSconnected will also provide further downstream supply chain growth, start-up and spinout activity, and a general upskilling of the Welsh manufacturing base.
Investment and leverage
What does the CSconnected Project involve?
The project comprises 4 strands of activity and investment:
The proposed R&D and Innovation activities are embedded within four related CRD (Collaborative R+D) projects which were carefully selected to address priority supply chain opportunities exploiting the expertise of the university R&D:
- Next generation optical communication
- Large scale compound semi-conductor manufacturing
- Next generation compound semi-conductor manufacturing tools
- Advanced process for 5G and miniaturised electric vehicle motor drives
The Skills Programme component is focussed upon wider and deeper CDP curriculum and initial development and testing of Degree Apprenticeships and potentially, Shared Apprenticeships. This is consistent of the findings of the updated CS Connected skills survey and the input of the Regional Skills Partnerships, which will be a key collaborator in the delivery of this programme. This also has the potential to link with previously stated ambitions for a Skills Academy on site at Imperial Park.
This element of the programme is aimed at establishing CS Connected as ‘trade body’ for the Cluster. This will provide a key governance mechanism and focus on outreach delivery, events and thought leadership as well as provision of business support to cluster companies and partners. This will mobilise global opportunities set out in the WG’s International Strategy particularly concerning levering in of FDI and inward investment opportunities. CS Connected will work on a membership model basis and aims to become a self-sustaining entity post cessation of SIPF funds.
The investment contribution required of CCR City Deal is in respect of the CSC Foundry ‘front of house’ works, which will form the base and headquarters for CS Connected, and is a cap-ex requirement of £3.3m. This amounts to a 50% contribution towards the full cost of conversion; marketing suite instalment, office space and the ‘inward investment front door’ within the Foundry.
The CS Connected HQ project will comprise the procurement, design, and construction and fit out of floor space at the Compound Semiconductor Cluster Foundry building in Newport. This will provide CSConnected with branded office facilities dedicated to development of the regional agenda around: FDI reception, CPD, SME incubation, dissemination, marketing and outreach and a thriving visitor centre.
The project will act as a seed for further development of ambitions for a CS technology and business park at Imperial Park and facilitation of a recognized and expanding Cluster that is embedded, valued and visible in its community. It is hoped that this will result in a persistent collective spirit of co-operation and to exploit future global opportunities in high productivity manufacturing.
Expected benefits and outcomes
There are significant benefits associated with the Programme – not least those that recognise the commitment to high value manufacturing that exists within CCR; leadership on a key enabling industry of the future and the opportunity that exists to build sovereign technological capability in the region.
In terms of one of the most significant opportunities – high-value employment – the SIPF bid sets out the potential for:
- 1,161 new direct high value jobs to supplement the existing 1,483 in the cluster
- significant new employment (~595 jobs) in other parts of the Welsh economy
- additional GVA of £140m pa by >2025
- increasing RD+I spend in the region by £55M
- a strong return on public investment of x30 over 5yrs
In addition to this, the prospect of a Skills Academy; collaborative Research and Development projects mobilising a range of new product lines which have strong potential to be manufactured in the region, as well as a whole network being established around significant inward investment opportunities – the ‘story’ of SIPF is one of creating the business culture for high value manufacturing in the CCR. Ensuring there is a strong communications strategy around this will be critical to conveying the richness of the story. The impact of Covid-19 must also be considered as part of this. Covid-19 does not change the importance of this Programme in any way. In every way, it underlines why it is of greater importance. However the economic and recessionary impact anticipated is likely to impact and this will need to be kept under close review.
Key partners and people involved
The following organisations are partners in the project: