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EU funding boost for Compound Semiconductors

Friday 10th February 2017

Researcher looking at electronics containing compound semiconductors.

Sara Gillgrass, a postgraduate student in the School of Physics and Astronomy

A £13m EU funding boost to help put Cardiff University’s Institute for Compound Semiconductors at the forefront of 21st Century technologies has been announced by Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford.

The EU funding will help build, equip and run a state-of-the-art cleanroom at the new Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS), based at Cardiff University’s Innovation Campus.

ICS will turn its laboratory research into products and services by working with commercial partners to lead in developing one of the world's key enabling technologies – Compound Semiconductors (CS).

Researcher working with a compound semiconductor chip

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said: “Investing in world leading facilities so that academia and industry can collaborate and drive forward research in this sector will be an important boost to the Welsh economy ...”

Mark Drakeford AM

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford AM.

“This EU funding will encourage high quality well-paid employment in the participating companies and the creation of spin-out companies, new start-ups as well as attracting innovative CS companies from across the UK and Europe, all adding to increased growth and prosperity in the region.”

Compound Semiconductor technologies underpin the internet and have enabled new emerging megatrends such as Smart Phones, tablets, and satellite communications. CS are created by combining elements to produce materials with physical and chemical properties that have wide-ranging technological applications.

Professor Colin Riordan, President and Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University, said: “This EU funding is a vital component in our bid to generate prosperity in South Wales through industrial innovation..."

"By investing in high quality facilities and talented researchers, and by building long-standing commercial partnerships, Cardiff University’s Innovation System will help deliver prosperity for Wales.”

IQE group headquarters in Cardiff

Dr Drew Nelson, CEO, IQE plc, said: "The role of compound semiconductors as an enabling technology for a wide range of next generation applications from high-speed communications to autonomous vehicles, is widely acknowledged worldwide, with major initiatives underway by blue-chip organisations, academic institutions and government agencies, particularly in Asia and the USA..."

"In Europe, Wales is uniquely positioned with a critical mass of compound semiconductor expertise to exploit the enormous commercial opportunities that will doubtlessly be generated."

"The announcement of £13M investment by WEFO significantly adds weight and credibility to Wales becoming a global hub in this key enabling technology that will drive innovation over the coming years and decades."

The funding builds on long-running work between the University, IQE, Welsh and UK Government to develop a hub of CS expertise in South Wales, and includes awards of £17.3m from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund and £12m from Welsh Government to support the development of the wider ICS facility.