The UK government has begun recruiting a panel of experts to work on boosting the semiconductor sector and growing the economy.
The Semiconductor Advisory Panel’s responsibilities will include offering the government advice and feedback on how it can support companies involved in the delivery of semiconductor products and ensure critical British industries have safe and steady access to the chips they need to drive innovation and grow the economy.
Among the areas to be discussed in forthcoming meetings are how to nurture skills, improve access to finance, develop stronger international collaboration and setting out how industry can work directly with the government to achieve these goals.
Members of the panel include Richard Grisenthwaite, chief architect at ARM; Americo Lemos, CEO of IQE, a company specialising in advanced semiconductor manufacturing; and Eben Upton, CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
Other panel members include Amelia Armour, a partner at Amadeus Capital Partners; Rae Hyndman, managing director of Clas-SiC Wafer Fab; John Goodenough, chair in microelectronic systems at the University of Sheffield; Scott White, executive director at Pragmatic; Andy Sellars, strategic development director at Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult; and Janet Collyer, senior independent director at EnSilica.
The government said the panel would be co-chaired by technology minister Paul Scully, along with Jalal Bagherli, the former CEO of Dialog Semiconductor.
Scully said: “Properly engaging and listening to the experts at the heart of researching, designing and producing semiconductors is essential if we’re serious about growing our domestic sector, protecting our national security and unleashing rapid innovation across the British economy.”
Co-chair Bagherli said the panel offered a remarkable opportunity to bridge the gap between industrial executives, academia and national government. “Each member brings a unique perspective and expertise, making it an ideal platform to collaborate with national government in shaping an effective policy for our industrial sector.”
Paul Scully, technology minister
The global chip crisis and geopolitical tension with China have led many countries to develop their own strategy for semiconductors. In July, China said it would be introducing export restrictions, which would impact the supply of gallium and germanium semiconductor materials. There is general consensus that the UK cannot rely on China for semiconductor raw materials.
While the UK’s semiconductor strategy primarily focuses on early-stage innovation, design and intellectual property creation, for panel member Lemos of IQE, the experts being brought together will be able to help the government focus on developing a secure and resilient supply chain to safeguard the UK’s position as a global leader in the semiconductor ecosystem.
Fellow panel member Collyer of EnSilica said she was looking to focus on how the UK can encourage more women to join the semiconductor sector.
One of the areas that many recognise as a limitation in the UK semiconductor sector is access to venture capital (VC) funding. Speaking recently to Computer Weekly, Charles Sturman, chair of the Techworks Semiconductor Leadership Group, said access to venture capital in the UK was not set up in a way that supports the long-term investment needed by semiconductor startups.
Panel member Amiour of Amadeus Capital Partners said: “I’m excited to join the advisory panel as a representative of the VC sector. With a strategy now in place, the focus needs to shift towards how to practically support the growth of the UK semiconductor ecosystem and help foster the development of our specific areas of deep tech expertise.”