UK unveils its long-awaited £1bn semiconductor strategy

19 May 2023

Image: © Daniel CHETRONI/

The new strategy follows similar actions being taken by the EU and the US, but the UK’s plans are being criticised for lacking ‘ambition’.

The UK has revealed its strategy to build up and protect its semiconductor sector, with plans to invest £1bn over the next decade.

The UK government said this National Semiconductor Strategy is a twenty-year plan to build upon the country’s strengths in design, R&D and compound semiconductors.

The key objectives of the new strategy are to grow the UK’s domestic semiconductor sector, mitigate supply chain disruptions and protect national security.

In the short-term, the UK will invest up to £200m from 2023 to 2025 to improve industry access to infrastructure, support R&D and “facilitate greater international cooperation”.

The strategy includes collaboration plans with Japan to strengthen the industry’s supply chain and foster new exchange of skills between the two countries.

The two countries plan to begin a joint investment of up to £2m next year to support early-stage semiconductor research.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said semiconductors “underpin the devices we use everyday” and will be “crucial” to advancing future technologies.

“Our new strategy focuses our efforts on where our strengths lie, in areas like research and design, so we can build our competitive edge on the global stage,” Sunak said.

“By increasing the capabilities and resilience of our world-leading semiconductor industry, we will grow our economy, create new jobs and stay at the forefront of new technological breakthroughs.”

Mixed responses

The country’s new strategy follows similar developments in the EU, as the bloc struck a provisional deal on its €43bn Chips Act last month. This Chips Act aims to double the EU’s global market share in semiconductors to 20pc by 2030 while protecting Europe’s supply chain.

The US revealed its own Chip and Science Act last year, which pledged $52.7bn for semiconductor research, development, manufacturing and workforce development.

The UK’s strategy has received mixed responses due to the much smaller spending plan compared to the EU and the US. One UK start-up claimed the £1bn figure wouldn’t even cover the cost of a single basic semiconductor plant, The Guardian reports.

Labour and Co-op MP Lucy Powell said on Twitter that the strategy will be met with disappointment due to the “scale of its ambition”.

Russ Shaw CBE, the founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, said the announcement is an “important step” to ensure the UK strengthens its position “as a world-leading tech and innovation superpower”.

“This is a positive step, and the industry will now look to government to deliver on this plan over the next decade and beyond,” Shaw said. “Crucially, the UK needs to deploy as much of this investment early as the industry requires longer time horizons to build deeper capabilities in this vital sector.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic