Leeds joins government semiconductor consortium to revolutionise UK economy

The University of Leeds is offering its world-leading resources as part of a landmark, government-commissioned consortium to grow the UK’s semiconductor industry.

Semiconductor technology is not only vital to UK prosperity and security – it underpins the modern economy, to the value of £11 billion. The Department for Science, Innovation & Technology (DSIT) has therefore made it one of five priority “technologies of tomorrow” for the UK, developing a National Semiconductor Strategy to increase the resilience of the nation’s supply chain and generate economic growth through innovation. 

The eight-month study, led by IfM Engage, will develop ideas to build on UK strengths in semiconductor design, compound semiconductors and next generation technologies. It is supported by a strong partnership of industrial and academic bodies, including the University, which will work in collaboration with DSIT to study infrastructure needs and formulate a new strategic coordination function for the sector.  

It is hoped that this work will not only benefit semiconductor companies, but original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and end-users of chips in dependent sectors critical to the UK’s rapidly digitising economy, including applications in automotive, AI, telecoms, and quantum industries. 

The University will bring in learning from its cutting-edge Bragg Centre for Materials Research, which offers specialised growth and fabrication equipment in its new cleanroom, supporting companies as they design and prototype new devices. 

The consortium is exploring five semiconductor capabilities for the UK: 

  • Silicon chip production for prototyping and piloting; 

  • Compound semiconductor foundry; 

  • Advanced packaging; 

  • Design tools and IP; and  

  • A strategic coordination function. 

Industrial evidence will be gathered and then used to analyse the feasibility and requirements of a new national initiative, which aims to bring the UK’s industry together to tackle shared challenges and help businesses scale up.

IfM Engage – the knowledge transfer arm of the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge – and Leeds are joined by CSA Catapult, Techworks NMI, Silicon Catalyst, Photonics Leadership Group, Cambridge Econometrics, Future Horizons, Semiwise, and researchers from Imperial College London.

The University’s involvement reflects its ongoing strategy to work with leading organisations and policy holders in important industries to make a global impact, especially as semiconductor technology plays a critical role in the UK’s economic prosperity, net-zero ambitions, and national security. 

Professor Edmund Linfield, the Chair and Director of the Bragg Centre for Material Research, said: “The University of Leeds is very pleased to play a key part in a programme of such national importance, and we look forward to working in partnership with some of the best minds in the industry to develop ideas that have a lasting, positive impact on the country’s business and innovation.” 

Dr Nicky Athanassopoulou, Head of Solution Development at IfM Engage, said: “IfM Engage and its strong consortium partners represent some of the most knowledgeable organisations of the semiconductor industry in the UK. Together, we have extensive knowledge of the sector nationally and internationally and can harness this expertise to address this complex problem which has high impact potential.” 

David Lott, CEO of IfM Engage, added: “We are delighted to have been chosen to support the UK semiconductor industry. We are uniquely positioned to engage both industry and academia in helping to boost jobs and skills to grow the UK’s domestic industry and ensure a reliable supply of semiconductors.”