UK plans IMEC equivalent for compound semiconductors

UK plans IMEC equivalent for compound semiconductors

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult is about to appoint a chief executive and create a centre in Wales, says Kevin Crofton, President of semiconductor equipment maker SPTS and newly appointed chair of the catapult (above, left).

“In the grand vision we would be ideally the IMEC equivalent in the compound space, based in the UK,” he said. “This would be a place where international compound companies come to engage on process flows, application development, in an agnostic way – will that be 10 years or 20, I don’t know, but that’s where we are heading.”

“There’s something like 500 companies in the UK that are involved in compound semiconductors and applications so the whole supply chain is here in the UK, mostly on the back of [telecoms company] BT,” he said. “There’s an immense supply chain but it’s fragmented. There are many small companies with great ideas and great technologies that can’t get their technologies to market.

“The vision of the catapult is to identify the opportunities in power or RF or LED or communications, and identify the biggest hurdles to bringing products to market faster. We want to be agnostic and help as many people as possible for projects that can be used across the UK compound semiconductor space,” he said. “Is that for test gear, is it device modelling with spice models, should we help to connect the supply chain, identify foundries, that kind of thing. The challenge for the catapult right now is to decide which quick wins we can get in which areas and which projects can we fund with three to five year horizons and there’s a balance between the two.”

The Catapult is working with universities at Cardiff, Swansea and Bath and companies across the UK, and will have a campus that includes research space and another area for spin out companies with £10m a year over the next five years. “I want us to make a difference for the industry, not just for the catapult, to improve our position in the compound space,” said Crofton. “We expect the Catapult to be self sustaining in five years, either by payment in kind, for projects, IP spinouts, maybe royalties from spinouts, with the focus on LED, RF and probably power.”

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