UK Shells Out £35mn To Be A Part of €11bn EU Chips Program


The Chips Joint Undertaking- JU happens to have an overall budget of almost €11 billion, with €4.175 billion coming from the various EU pots as well as the rest forked by the participating states as well as the private sector. It happens to have five operational objectives, which go on to cover the design as well as production of new chips, quantum chip creation, training, as well as facilitating access when it comes to debt along with equity financing.

Keeping this remit in mind, the Chips JU goes on to periodically invite eligible companies in order to apply for funding. Apparently, the three most recent calls in terms of proposals, which happened to be issued in early February, went on to promise to allocate an overall total amounting to €216 million.

The question is that where does the UK fit in? The actual area of the Chips JU that has in it the UK relates to the research and innovation- R&I activities, which are apparently centered on semiconductor technologies. This bit, especially the JU, happens to be funded to the tune of €1.3 billion by way of the EU’s Horizon Europe scientific research scheme, which the UK went ahead and rejoined in September 2023.

In order to get its foot in the door, the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology- DSIT went on to announce that the UK has gone on to agree to contribute £5 million this year, in addition to another £30 million between 2025 and 2027.

In return, UK companies will now be eligible to bid as far as the funding part is concerned. It is well to be noted that in 2024, the JU is going to be issuing a couple of calls for funding bids that happen to be related to semiconductors in terms of cars as well as other vehicles, along with chips based on open-source RISC-V architecture. Both of these areas, as per the DSIT, happen to be right up the UK’s alley.

According to Chips JU executive director Jari Kinaret, they are indeed very happy to welcome the UK within the Chips Joint Undertaking as one of the participating states and are for sure looking forward to working with the UK partners so as to develop the European industrial ecosystem in microelectronics as well as its applications, hence contributing to the continent’s scientific excellence as well as innovation leadership within semiconductor technologies as well as related fields.

Being a fully paid up participating state, the UK will also go on to have a role when it comes to setting up research priorities as well as funding decisions in the times to come.

The technology minister, Saqib Bhatti, opined that the membership of the Chips Joint Undertaking will go ahead and boost Britain’s advantages in semiconductor science as well as research so as to secure their position in the worldwide chip supply chain. This highlights their unwavering commitment so as to pushing the boundaries when it comes to technology and also establishes their significant role when it comes to shaping the future of semiconductor technologies across the world.

The fact is that it will certainly not hinder the UK’s semiconductor push, which happens to be focused firmly on research and development instead of the astronomically expensive, yet ultimately more lucrative, production as well as supply.

In the gamut of its National Semiconductor Strategy, the government will go ahead and spend £1 billion across the next decade so as to grow the UK’s semiconductor sector, decrease any kind of risk to supply chain disruption, and safeguard national security.

In sync with that strategy, DSIT went on to announce in February that almost £27 million from that pot will go on to fund two new semiconductor R&D centers, apart from a bunch of training schemes.

Although that might not be as eye-catching as South Korea’s $471 billion plan in terms of semiconductor mega clusters or the $38 billion allocated with regards to semiconductor production under the US CHIPS and Science Act, it does play to the UK’s strengths as a R&D hub.

As per the managing partner of a semiconductor-focused startup incubator called SiliconCatalyst, Sean Redmond, UK semiconductor startups happen to have a rich history of collabs with the European Union. Their semiconductor research base happens to be the fourth largest in the world, and the fact is that commercializing such inventions due to the help of the EU Chips Joint Undertaking will go on to significantly raise the probability of success, decrease risk through local collaborations that go on to provide a clear path from the lab right to the fab.