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MPs warn semiconductor strategy delay is an ‘act of national self-harm’

BEIS semiconductor strategy
Image credit: FOTOGRIN via Shutterstock

A group of MPs have warned the government that delays in publishing its semiconductor strategy is an “act of national self-harm” and risks the UK falling behind.

MPs from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee said the report, which is more than two years in the making, must be published “urgently”.

The government has faced calls from all directions to iron out a clear strategy to protect and encourage growth in the British semiconductor industry.

UK tech entrepreneurs, US chip firms, and British tech advocates have all made clear their desire to see the government produce a microchip strategy.

Labour MP and BEIS committee chair Darren Jones said: “Countries across the globe have grasped the importance of securing semiconductor supply chains for their futures, why haven’t we? While others race ahead, ploughing billions into setting up fabs or industry support, we’re not even at the starting line.”

In December, the BEIS Committee published a set of practical recommendations for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is overseeing the semiconductor strategy.

Other Western powers have embarked on plans to ensure internal investment into their semiconductor industries and protect microchip supply chains.

Both the US and the EU have already passed legislation in the form of the European Chips Act and the CHIPS and Science Act.

Jones added: “Two years in the making but still no strategy. Further delay would be an act of national self-harm. With 40 days until the budget, the strategy must be published urgently so that sufficient funds can be put behind it and used effectively.”

Jones accused the government of hiding “behind its failure to publish a semiconductor strategy for not responding to our practical recommendations fully”.

Leaked details from a draft version of the UK’s semiconductor strategy included government subsidies for semiconductor startups and incentives for VCs to invest.

“The government needs to show its commitment to UK semiconductor companies through significant public sector procurement or policy initiatives that create meaningful home-grown revenue opportunities, and appropriate incentives for capital expenditure on high-value manufacturing to level the international playing field,” said Scott White, CEO at UK-based semiconductor firm Pragmatic.

“This would enable UK businesses and public organisations like the NHS to reap the benefits of the world-leading technology already on offer here in Britain.”