There’s no question that the £1bn announced for the semiconductor industry must be just our opening gambit in a heated international race for dominance in this vital technology (Report, FT.com, May 19).
But trying to scale up our capacity in today’s semiconductor technology would not be the smartest route for the UK right now. We cannot go toe-to-toe, pound-for-pound with the world’s largest economies.
Instead, it’s right that the strategy plays to our strengths in the semiconductor tech of the future. And with the limits of today’s silicon chip capabilities fast being reached, an opportunity window opens up for the UK to develop a competitive edge.
The UK has many exciting potential silicon disrupters, from Oxford researchers using photonics for high-density computing, to the game-changing compound semiconductor materials in the south Wales cluster.
The government is right to support these strengths while focusing on skills, joined-up R&D and manufacturing infrastructure, supporting small businesses and a coherent industry voice. This UK strategy is a good framework, but it’s just a start. The new industry advisory group must now represent the whole community, including early-stage R&D, to build on the strategy and get the UK ready to move with much greater ambition when the time is right.
Director of Science, Innovation and Skills, Institute of Physics, London N1, UK
— to www.ft.com