Inquiry launched into the Semiconductor Industry in the UK
25 May 2022
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has launched an inquiry that examines the strengths and weaknesses of the semiconductor industry and its supply chain in the UK and opportunities.
The new inquiry comes amidst an ongoing global shortage of semiconductors that has caused widespread disruption to supply chains. This has impacted the production of popular products like the Mini and the PlayStation 5.
Semiconductor materials are essential in electronics and are used in computer chips in everything from fridge freezers to airliners.
While the UK’s largest microchip is subject to a controversial takeover bid from Chinese-owned Nexperia, manufacturers elsewhere, such as the US, Japan and the European Union, have been heavily investing in expanding their facilities. The Committee will also examine the opportunities for collaboration with such allies.
Semiconductors are also a ‘dual use’ item – things that can be used both in civilian and military products – and as such access to them is a matter of national security. This is particularly being felt right now with China trying to assert dominance in Southeast Asia, which includes Taiwan and South Korea where most of the world’s advanced silicon computer chip supply comes from. This, and fears that China could acquire cutting-edge British compound semiconductor designs are the reason behind concerns over Nexperia’s takeover of Newport Wafer Fab.
Commenting on the new inquiry, Committee Chair Darren Jones said,
“Semiconductors are growing in technological and geopolitical importance. With scarce global supply, it’s essential that we conduct a stock take of the UK’s capacity and what Government can do to raise it.
We want to hear from industry, academics and experts to get a better picture of the UK semiconductor landscape here at a time when there are concerns over the future of global supply chains.”
Terms of reference
If you’re interested in contributing to this inquiry, you can submit evidence answering any of the following questions on the Committee website until 14 June 2022.
- What is the current and future anticipated demand for common products built with semiconductor materials (e.g. computer chips) both in the UK and globally?
- What is the UK’s semiconductor supply chain and is this secure? If not, how can this be improved? What specific strengths does the UK have to contribute to regional or global semiconductor supply chains? How competitive is the UK within the global context of the semiconductor industry?
- Are there opportunities for strengthening different parts of the current UK semiconductor industry? What are the potential weaknesses and strengths of the UK semiconductor industry to meet future requirements of electronic device manufacturing?
- In which industries does the UK not have an end-to-end semiconductor supply chain? Are there any opportunities for these supply chain gaps to be filled within the UK?
- How can the Government strengthen semiconductor research and innovation? Are there any current areas of weakness in the present Government strategy to semiconductor innovation? Is there effective communication between the various stakeholders within the UK’s semiconductor ecosystem?
- Does the UK have the required skills, talent and diversity to be able to boost its current semiconductor industry and to respond to future disruption?
- What are the potential national security concerns or vulnerabilities in our semiconductor industry? How should the UK collaborate with the United States and European Union? What are the ramifications on other industries and the wider economy within the UK?
- Is the Government currently providing the clarity and direction required to enable growth and security in the semiconductor industry? Are the right governmental organisations involved with ensuring effective development of our current semiconductor industry to thrive in the future?