Government announces £22m in chip funding

British scientists have been handed £22 million in funding for their work on the chip development behind AI advancements and the technologies needed to reach net zero.

Two new research hubs in Southampton and Bristol have received a cash injection to boost research in silicon photonics and compound semiconductors.

Semiconductors are a key component in almost every electrical device from mobile phones to medical equipment. They underpin future technologies in net zero, AI and quantum and are increasingly recognised as an area of global strategic significance.

Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Saqib Bhatti, said, "This investment marks a crucial step in advancing our ambitions for the semiconductor industry, with these centres helping bring new technologies to market in areas like net zero and AI, rooting them right here in the UK.

“Just nine months into delivering on the National Semiconductor Strategy, we’re already making rapid progress towards our goals. This isn’t just about fostering growth and creating high-skilled jobs, it's about positioning the UK as a hub of global innovation, setting the stage for breakthroughs that have worldwide impact.”

Each £11 million site will support various research and projects, providing state-of-the-art prototyping technology essential for testing complex designs, and nurturing early-stage companies. This includes empowering spin-outs with training, workshops and vital industry contacts, ensuring they are fully equipped for when their products are market-ready.

The “Cornerstone” Information and Knowledge Centre in Southampton will build on the University’s specialism in silicon photonics. This is an emerging area of research in semiconductors, where light is used to communicate information instead of electricity – meaning the chips that are made using this technology are much quicker than standard semiconductors.

Silicon photonics researcher Professor Graham Reed, who will lead the Cornerstone facility, said, “The Cornerstone IKC will unite leading UK entrepreneurs and researchers, together with a network of support to improve the commercialisation of semiconductors and deliver a step-change in the silicon photonics industry.”

A further funding of £4.8 million in 11 semiconductor skills projects nationwide will be used across all educational establishments from school through to university and beyond. This funding will raise awareness of the semiconductor industry and address key gaps in the UK's workforce talent and training framework.

The centres will help to deliver on government’s £1 billion National Semiconductor Strategy, a 20-year plan detailing how the UK’s strengths and skills in design, R&D and compound semiconductors will move forward.