The compound semiconductor technology sector will be at the heart of the next industrial revolution and is of vital importance to the Welsh economy, Minister for Economy Vaughan Gething has said.
The Minister was visiting SPTS Technologies, based in Newport, which designs and manufactures the wafer processing equipment used by leading businesses in the global semiconductor sector.
Compound semiconductors are critical components for devices such as Apple iPhones and technology such as Wi-Fi.
SPTS Technologies in one of four anchor companies, along with IQE, Newport Wafer Fab and Microchip, which make up a compound semiconductor cluster in South Wales.
The Welsh Government provided the initial investment to develop this cluster in 2015. This was the catalyst for Wales to become the leading centre of compound semiconductor expertise in the world.
It has recently seen tech-start-up Rockley Photonics, with their “clinic-on-the-wrist” technology, choose to make use of the first-class facilities offered by Newport Wafer Fab and IQE.
The cluster members generate more than £600 million in revenue each year between them, while the compound semiconductor sector and its supply chain generally employs more than 2,000 people in Wales.
SPTS Technologies, which won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation 2020, has significant expansion plans for its Welsh operation. It currently employs 447 people at its Wales HQ.
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:
We are immensely proud of the world-leading compound semiconductor ecosystem we helped foster here in Wales. It is a high potential network translating state-of-the-art research and innovation capabilities into world-class Welsh manufacturing for new and emerging global technology markets.
This “next generation” technology shape our lives today and will improve our experiences of tomorrow – from electric vehicles, to face recognition in smart phones, and space applications.
The sector is of huge significance to Wales, providing high value employment and a real magnet for foreign direct investment. It also underpins development in so many other industries, and we believe it can deliver against our Programme for Government by driving a stronger, greener economy, and contributing to the net-zero, decarbonisation challenge.
We have invested in infrastructure to bridge academic discovery and commercial application, supported companies to develop innovative products for new markets and encouraged collaboration through our Open Innovation programme.
SPTS is a shining example in this exciting field and I am delighted they are significantly expanding their Welsh operation, which stretches back 40 years. I wish them the best of luck for the future as they continue to fly the flag for high-tech success in Wales.
Oreste Donzella, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of KLA, said:
Our unwavering commitment to innovation and delivering excellence to our customers is what makes SPTS, a KLA company, successful.
We are continuously driving advancements and answering the challenges faced in the compound semiconductor sector. The growth and success of SPTS is not only giving our business global recognition, it is putting Wales on the global semiconductor map. Our dedicated workforce here in Wales, our continued success and our commitment to growth and expansion will ensure SPTS and Wales are at the forefront of this technological revolution.