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UK Government to invest £14M in power semi packaging


Investment in open-access equipment will help researchers and companies test power applications and improve semiconductor packaging

The UK Government has announced £16.6 million investment to give semiconductor researchers and businesses access to new equipment to help them test and make semiconductor chips for use in applications like electric cars and manufacturing equipment.

£14 million of the funding is targeted at power semiconductors.

The new tools, based predominantly in Newcastle and Strathclyde, is designed to help researchers and businesses of all sizes test applications in power electronics and improve their semiconductor packaging processes.

The investment, made through Innovate UK, comes as part of the UK’s Semiconductor Strategy, which identified new ways of packaging and testing chips as a key area to drive performance improvements in semiconductors.

Technology Minister Saqib Bhatti said: "New innovations in the way we package up semiconductors have the potential to transform whole industries and vastly improve consumer devices, all while driving long-term economic growth.

"This investment in open-access technology will make sure British researchers have the tools they need to rapidly turn semiconductor science into business reality, all while making hugely energy intensive sectors more sustainable.

"The open-access tools will cover a range of processes involved with designing and testing these semiconductors, including slicing silicon wafers into smaller chips and bonding complex materials together to make chips.

"Funding will also be used to help manufacturers improve the technology used to automate assembly processes, as well as helping build and test ‘drives’ which are pivotal in the conversion of energy into motion in electric vehicles, manufacturing equipment and more.

Mike Biddle, executive director, Net Zero at Innovate UK, said: "Innovate UK’s investment into supply chains for Power Electronics, Machines and Drives shows the importance of these technologies to the UK economy and the global race to net zero.

"It is exciting to see the breadth of activity in semiconductor packaging as well as electric machine validation and manufacturing. The majority of this investment is strategically aligned with the National Semiconductor Strategy and helps grow the high-value post-wafer capabilities within the UK.

{The funding will build on an existing network of machinery open to researchers and businesses across the UK through Driving the Electric Revolution Industrial Centres (DER-IC), originally backed by £33 million of funding in 2019.

"DER-IC has previously partnered with the likes of McLaren Applied to test and develop new ways of manufacturing an ‘electric drive train’, a power electronics technology that will be used by companies producing automotives and aeroplanes to bring innovative and more efficient electric products to the market faster."

Matt Boyle OBE, executive chair of DER-IC, said: "This funding will allow us to help industry invest further in the technologies of Power Electronics, Machines and Drives (PEMD) manufacture.

"Industry has already invested heavily in these electrification manufacturing technologies since the start of the challenge. This additional equipment is being deployed to areas, capability and sectors where industry has stated that it will grow the UK supply chains for PEMD.

Paul Jarvie, centre lead for the DER-IC for the South West and Wales and Business Development Manager at CSA Catapult said: "This new funding will help us further improve our offering to the PEMD industry and develop innovative new technologies to drive us towards Net Zero.

"The new funding will help enable and de-risk the scale-up challenge for UK packaging companies and allow semiconductors to reach their full potential in applications ranging from electric vehicles and renewable energy to manufacturing and data centres."

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