CSA Catapult and SMD Semiconductor sign landmark collaboration agreement

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The Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult and SMD Semiconductor have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work together in the design, prototyping and manufacturing of next-generation semiconductor and compound semiconductor chips in the automotive and space industries.

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The MoU also signals the intent of SMD to establish an office in the UK to enable the co-creation of ideas and product development, whilst also working with academia, industry and government in the UK and Sarawak, a Malaysian state on Borneo, to develop a pipeline of talent.

The MoU was exchanged during an AI and Semiconductor Summit held in the House of Commons and attended by members of the Sarawak government, UK and Welsh governments, SMD Semiconductor and CSA Catapult.

SMD Semiconductor is a wholly owned entity of the Sarawak Government and was established in September 2022 under the Sarawak Research and Development Council Ordinance, 2017.

It focuses on advanced technological research and development, with an emphasis on chip design and the development of integrated circuit products.

Established by Innovate UK in 2018, the CSA Catapult is the UK’s leading authority on compound semiconductor applications and commercialisation. 

With labs and offices across the UK, it is a centre of excellence and specialises in the measurement, characterisation, integration and validation of compound semiconductor technology across four areas - power electronics, advanced packaging, radio frequency (RF) and microwave communications, and photonics. 

Martin McHugh, CEO at CSA Catapult said, “We’re absolutely delighted to sign this MoU with SMD Semiconductor and to kick-start a partnership that will allow us to explore new opportunities to develop next-generation technology for critical industries such as automotive and space. 

“The partnership will allow us to call on each other’s strengths in the design, prototyping and manufacturing of semiconductor and compound semiconductor technologies to enable new concepts, ideas and products.

“The MoU also represents a significant landmark for both the UK and Sarawak. By entering into agreements such as this, we are championing international partnerships and helping the UK increase its cooperation with close partners to help build resilience in our supply chains.” 

In response Shariman Jamil, CEO at SMD Semiconductor, said that the company recognised the immense potential of compound semiconductor technology and investing heavily in its development and commercialisation was crucial for SMD to stay ahead in a fast-changing market.

“By harnessing the unique properties of compound semiconductors, we aim to unlock new frontiers in performance, efficiency, and functionality across a wide range of applications,” Jamil said.

“I am excited to announce that SMD is doubling down on its investment in compound semiconductor technology, recognising its potential to drive innovation, accelerate growth, and create lasting value for our customers and stakeholders.”

Professor Birgitte Andersen, CEO of Big Innovation Centre, said: “Semiconductors and chips are the hardware driving force of our time. They can unlock AI possibilities and spearhead smart infrastructure development to tackle our productivity and sustainability challenges head-on. From revolutionising energy optimisation to reshaping our interaction with the environment and each other, semiconductors play a pivotal role. Yet, realising their complete potential demands relentless research and development, and global collaboration.”  

Commenting on the MoU Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Saqib Bhatti said, “This partnership between CSA Catapult and SMD Semiconductor will catalyse the development of cutting-edge semiconductors, which are essential for our automotive and space industries. As a result, it will not only help fortify our supply of this critical technology, but also drive innovation and economic growth in both of our nations."