A technology hub in Wales is set to receive £38 million to become a ‘world-leader’ in developing new technology. The money will be invested in developing compound semiconductors, used primarily for 5G but also for robotics, IoT devices and driverless cars. The 10 councils in the Cardiff Capital Region of Wales are funding the project, which is set to create 2,000 high-skilled jobs over the next five years. It follows a £12 million investment from the Welsh government in November 2015, in an aim to make the Newport foundry a global technology hub.
Making south-east Wales a European hub for technological innovation has been a long term project in the UK. A £1.2 billion City Deal agreed between the local authorities and the Welsh and UK governments last year has propelled that plan forward.
Compound semiconductors are expected to revolutionise the technology sphere. There are already a number of companies in Wales using traditional semiconductors made from silicon. The aim now is to create a network between those companies to further develop the technologies.The aim of the latest investment is to create a network of those companies across the south-east of Wales and help them develop further so that Wales can become a world leader in making them and developing technologies that will use them.
BBC economics correspondent Sarah Dickins believes that the investment could ‘revolutionise’ south-east Wales. “The dream of those behind this project is that compound semiconductors will do for south east Wales what silicon semiconductors did for Paolo Alto in California. Silicon Valley became known around the world and attracted high levels of investment and became ‘the place ‘to set up tech companies.”
She added: “The technological opportunities are wide-ranging and the dream is that by being at the forefront of development of compound semiconductors the whole of the Welsh economy would move up a gear. One of the aims of the Cardiff City Deal was to increase productivity in south east Wales and the development of this cluster has been very much a part of that aim.”