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World’s first Compound Semiconductor Cluster to go ahead in Wales

Development of a much-anticipated Compound Semiconductor Cluster in South East Wales has been ratified, following a “historic” signing ceremony.

The landmark agreement – between Cardiff Capital Region (CCR), IQE plc, and the Welsh and UK governments – guarantees construction of a specialist facility in Newport, which will serve as a state-of-the-art anchor for high-end compound semiconductor production.

The Newport facility will be wholly owned by the ten councils that comprise the CCR Regional Cabinet, with the space itself leased to IQE plc for compound semiconductor manufacturing and applications development. The hope is that this facility will help to establish Newport as home to the world’s first Compound Semiconductor Cluster.

For those unaware, compound semiconductors support a myriad of emerging technologies, be it 5G smartphones, autonomous vehicles or the Internet of Things. They are far more complex than their silicon counterparts, boasting higher operating speeds and reduced power consumption.

There are wider implications for the regional economy as well. The so-called Compound Semiconductor Cluster brings with it a raft of potential benefits in the shape of:

  • £375M of private sector investment.
  • Creation of up to 2,000 highly skilled jobs.
  • Return of investment for use on other regional schemes.
  • Generation of hundreds more jobs throughout the wider supply chain.

Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, said: “Compound semiconductors are at the heart of many devices we use today, from smart phones to tablets and satellite communication systems. It is an area of UK strength and today’s confirmation of the development of a cluster of excellence in Wales reinforces our own strong position in the growth of this important and growing technology.

“Of course, government does not create innovation, but it can be a catalyst to getting the scientists and engineers, the designers and the entrepreneurs together to make it happen.

“This collaboration is important because innovation is a shared endeavour and I look forward to seeing the cluster take shape and create a lasting engineering and manufacturing legacy in Wales.”

Dr Drew Nelson, Chief Executive Officer of IQE plc, added: “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.”

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