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UK unveils £1 bn semiconductor strategy

The British government on Friday unveiled a new £1 billion semiconductor strategy to invest in infrastructure, research and security as the UK tries to diversify its chip supply chain.

The plan would “safeguard supply chains from disruption and protect tech against national security risks”, the UK government’s department for business, energy and industrial strategy said in a statement.
The investment over the next decade would include up to £200 million ($215 million) between now and 2025.

The new 20-year strategy would “boost the UK’s strengths and skills in design, R&D and compound semiconductors, while helping to grow domestic chip firms across the UK”, the department added.

It comes as European carmaker Stellantis has warned it could close some UK factories should the British government fail to tweak Brexit trade rules to ease the supply of batteries for electric vehicles, for which semiconductor technology is a key part.

Visiting Tokyo Thursday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced Japanese investment of more than $22 billion into the UK, but accepted carmakers’ concern about Brexit trade rules as he confirmed talks with the European Union.

“Semiconductors underpin the devices we use every day and will be crucial to advancing the technologies of tomorrow,” Sunak was quoted as saying in the statement.

“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,” he added