Aug 12, 2023

Semiconductor incubator move in UK chip strategy ...

The UK government is funding a pilot incubator programme to be run by Silicon Catalyst as part of its semiconductor strategy.

“The first action out of the strategy is an early stage incubator, an earlier stage than our accelerator, companies that won’t have raised funding,” said Sean Redmond, UK managing director of Silicon Catalyst tells eeNews Europe.

“We will help them through a nine month semiconductor programme where we will have specific training material to shape and mould what semiconductor startups need, contracts, funding, building a field team, all of that.”

“What we want to see happen is to create the next generation of scalable semiconductor companies, CSR, GraphCore, Imagination, ARM, but what we have seen at Silicon Catalyst is there are less and less startups ready to take significant funding as the UK had slipped to sixth behind Switzerland on the number of semiconductor startups,” he said.

There are three courses per month and startups will get access to the Silicon Catalyst ecosystem, EDA tools, design IP and to the foundry partners if they are ready at TSMC, package and test so they can get to a first prototype, as well as input from the Silicon Catalyst advisors and experienced semiconductor executives.

“Henry Nurser, Russell Haggar and I will lead the charge so it’s a fully funded and staffed programme and the applications don’t have to give up equity and there is no service charge so its great for a team with a good idea,” said Redmond.

“That type of support means we are mitigating a lot of the risks in the initial stages and realising their potential to go onto other accelerators or the two year programme at Silicon Catalyst,” said Redmond. “I don’t think this type of opportunity has existed in the UK before in the terms of the breadth of the offering.”

There will be a minimum of 10 startups in the first cohort, selected through a competitive process over the next six weeks. “We will then use our advisor base to go through two rounds of due diligence screening and start from the first week of October. Then another programme will start almost immediately for a second cohort for the pilot,” he said.

The difference from other incubators and accelerators is the ecosystem, getting access to all aspects of support, not just the technical board but broader global support, he says.

“We have reached out to SetSquared, the Compound Semiconudctor Applications Catapult (CSAC) and DeepTech Labs and Cambridge Wireless for companies to co-incubate, we are not displacing any other programme but complementing it with investor relations. That is so specialist to know who is investing in semiconductors at which stage.”

The two pilot cohorts will inform the ten year semiconductor strategy, which has announced more details today including the advisory board.

“We need to see successful outcomes from the two cohorts and model what can happen downstream and by then we will have a single point of contact for semiconductors,” he said. “The semiconductor advisory panel will start to play a role in forming and creating the infrastructure and that’s a tremendous opportunity, it’s absolutely pivotal and the incubator will be part of that infrastructure,” he said.