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Glasgow well-placed to support the development of semiconductor technologies

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The central belt of Scotland is uniquely well-placed to support the development of enabling semiconductor technologies to underpin next-generation devices in communications, healthcare, photonics, AI and quantum.

Building on the expertise established during the Silicon Glen era of the 80s and 90s, Scotland has developed a super cluster of critical technologies across research, design, development and manufacturing, that is unrivalled in the UK outside the South-East of England. Universities across Scotland’s central belt are home to many of the country’s leading engineers and scientists, who are pushing the boundary of what’s possible with semiconductors and building valuable partnerships with industry.

The confluence of expertise, facilities and funding in Scotland can help us carve out a significant chunk of the estimated $1tn semiconductor market. That would create new jobs, boost the economy, and reduce the UK’s reliance on overseas providers for the silicon chips. “Green” semiconductors, for example, are an important and emerging opportunity for Scotland to further distinguish itself on the world stage.

The linchpin of much of this activity is the University of Glasgow’s James Watt Nanofabrication Centre. This is one of the UK’s leading facilities for turning fundamental science into components for cutting-edge devices and technologies used by some of the world’s leading tech companies. We’re continuing to build capacity in this area too: recently we announced the £3m ANALOGUE suite for silicon chip integration and packaging, accessible to partners around the world through sophisticated automation.

Across Glasgow, we’re building new links with industry through the Glasgow Riverside Innovation District in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow City Council. With support from the UK Government’s Innovation Accelerator fund, we’re developing new quantum and photonics projects with industry partners through our Critical Technologies Accelerator.

Spinouts from my university like Gold Standard Simulations, predicting the effect of atomic-scale imperfections in new devices and now aquired by Synopsys; Semiwise, providing consultancy, services and training in the area of semiconductors; and Neuranics, which is developing sophisticated magnetic health sensors in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, are testament to the diversity of our research and appeal to industry.

We recently played host to a high-level roundtable event on semiconductor strategy, attended by the Scottish and UK Governments, industry and academia, to discuss how to drive forward national ambitions.

The Scottish Government aims to ensure Scotland becomes one of the most innovative small nations in the world. At the University of Glasgow, we’re committed to helping realise Scotland’s ambitions for semiconductors and associated critical technologies of the future, building on the strong technical and institutional foundations we’ve already laid down.

Professor Chris Pearce is Vice Principal for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Glasgow

Agenda is a column for outside contributors. Contact: agenda@theherald.co.uk

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