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Developing Compound Semiconductor Technologies that can Drive the Welsh Economy

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Researchers in Cardiff are working to find new ways of developing compound semiconductor technologies that can drive the Welsh economy.

From smartphones and tablets to satellite communications and GPS, compound semiconductors drive the devices and technologies we use today.

The Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) at Cardiff University is a founding partner of CSconnected – the world's first compound semiconductor cluster and the collective brand for a growing number of advanced semiconductor-related activities in Wales.

A recent report published by Cardiff University’s Welsh Economy Research Unit (WERU) highlighted the cluster’s contribution to the economy.

CSconnected’s combined industrial and academic expertise enables a wide portfolio of applications, from resilient communications to advanced healthcare technologies and energy-efficient devices that will help achieve net-zero targets.

With state-of-the-art equipment, cutting-edge facilities and highly-skilled people, ICS plays a key role in supporting CSconnected. The ICS aims to position Cardiff as the UK and European leader in Compound Semiconductor Technologies.

ICS enables researchers and industry to work directly together on product development and prototyping, including advanced device fabrication, measurement and characterisation, and small scale pilot production, incorporating academic expertise to offer innovative business solutions.

The WERU report showed that in 2020, and despite a complex economic backdrop dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, the compound semiconductor sector out-performed the wider economy in a number of key areas, including job growth and exports.

Exports from the sector bucked the overall trend that saw the value of Welsh exports tumble by around 25% over the three years to Q1 2021.

Overall, sector employment in 2021 grew by around 14% year on year to around 1,600 full-time employees, with the sector accounting for over 10% of Wales’ total employment in electrical and electronic engineering.

Gross pay across the sector was around 60% higher than the overall average pay in Wales.

In terms of direct value to the Welsh economy, it is estimated that the sector directly contributed around £194M of Gross Value Added (GVA), representing around 1.7% of Welsh manufacturing GVA and around 15.4% of GVA in the more tightly defined electronic and engineering sector.

The cluster purchasing of regional goods and services, and payment of wage incomes, indirectly supports a further £83m of GVA – so the cluster, overall, supports directly and indirectly an estimated £277m of Welsh GVA.

ICS will move to a new bespoke Translational Research Hub (TRH) later this year. To find out more about ICS, visit https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/institute-compound-semiconductors