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UK gets funding boost through EU Horizon chip initiative

Signing up to the Chips Joint Undertaking means the UK will receive up to £35m to support chip development

The government has announced a joint undertaking with the European Union, which it says will result in a £35m boost for British semiconductor scientists and businesses in international chip research.

The UK has joined the Chips Joint Undertaking (Chips JU), a European initiative to access a €1.3bn Horizon Europe funding pot for collaborative semiconductor research projects up to 2027.

The UK has joined the initiative as a “participating state”, which means it can collaborate more closely with European partners on semiconductor innovation. As a participating state, the government said the UK will have a role in setting research priorities and funding decisions as the fund evolves in the years ahead.

This includes the opportunity for the UK to be a part of a new funding opportunity with the Republic of Korea to research ways to combine semiconductor chips to improve performance through advanced packaging. The UK-Republic of Korea semiconductor framework was signed in November 2023.

Access to Chips JU funds is being backed by an initial £5m this year from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, delivered by Innovate UK. An additional £30m is due to support UK participation in further research between 2025 and 2027.

The government said that by joining the fund and contributing in the same way as other countries that take part, the UK chip sector has enhanced access to bid for funding support from the €1.3bn pot, funded by Horizon Europe.

“Our membership of the Chips Joint Undertaking will boost Britain’s strengths in semiconductor science and research to secure our position in the global chip supply chain,” said technology minister Saqib Bhatti. “This underscores our unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of technology and cements our important role in shaping the future of semiconductor technologies around the world.”

Last year, the UK joined the Horizon Europe programme, giving UK companies and research institutions opportunities to lead global work to develop new technologies and research projects in areas from health to artificial intelligence.

According to the government, tens of thousands of UK companies are eligible for Horizon Europe grants, which are worth £450,000 to a business on average. UK firms already benefiting from Horizon funding include Nova Innovation, whose consortium won over £17m to develop tidal energy in Orkney, and South Yorkshire tech firm The Floow, which is part of a project awarded just under £3m to look into road safety.

Jalal Bagherli, chairman of Probe Test Solutions Ltd and co-chair of the UK Semiconductor Advisory Panel, said: “As the UK semiconductor strategy ramps up its implementation phase in support of a thriving industry, I believe this initiative is the next major step, enabling engagement with our global partners to advance the state of the art in chip development and innovative packaging technologies in the UK.”

The government said the Chips JU fund is well aligned to UK research expertise and includes two focused calls for funding bids on semiconductors for cars and other vehicles, as well as the RISC-V open source architecture.

Sean Redmond, managing partner at SiliconCatalyst, said: “Commercialising these inventions with the help of the EU Chips Joint Undertaking will significantly increase their probability of success, mitigating risks by local collaborations that provide a clear path from lab to fab.”

Read more about the UK’s semiconductor strategy

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