DSIT launches 'ChipStart' incubator for semiconductor start-ups

The Government has announced a new two-year pilot programme aimed at backing the next generation of global chip leaders.

Named 'ChipStart', the incubator will provide start-ups with the technical and commercial help they need to bring new products to market.

The £1.3 million programme will be delivered by SiliconCatalyst.UK, the world’s most experienced start-up accelerator, which has engaged with hundreds of chip companies on scaling up and growing. It will give companies access to bespoke chip design tools, commercial expertise, specialised mentorship, and networking opportunities with prospective investors and partners.

Semiconductors are the bedrock of our modern economy and an increasingly integral part of our lives. These firms are building on Britain’s research leadership to open doors to innovation and growth, while designing chips that could truly change the way we live our lives. Whether they’re innovating how we support patients with Parkinson’s or are on the cusp of supercharging how AI is used, these firms are the brightest sparks in the UK’s thriving semiconductor industry. This incubator will make sure they have the skills they need to revolutionise the lives of people not only in the UK, but across the world.

Paul Scully

Minister for Technology, DSIT

The UK’s established, world-leading capability in semiconductor design is at the heart of the programme, with five of the firms initially founded as ‘spinouts’ from the UK’s leading universities, and two more originating from research carried out at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The launch of the pilot delivers on a key commitment made in the National Semiconductor Strategy, detailing how the government will drive forward the UK’s strengths and skills in design, R&D and compound semiconductors, while helping to grow domestic chip firms across the UK.

On completion, the pilot will provide the UK’s semiconductor industry with a pipeline of new startups that have an innovative product, route to market and are a foundation for their forward growth, including routes to future seed funding.

Twelve semiconductor design start-ups have joined as part of the programme's first cohort, including RED Semiconductor, whose CEO, James Lewis, recently spoke about emerging semiconductor technologies in techUK's Future Visions: AI and Semiconductors webinar.

The free webinar was part of techUK's Supercharging Innovation campaign week, which featured insights, vlogs and events on Quantum, Metaverse, Space, AI, Semiconductors, Future of Compute and Tech Policy. You can catch up on the week's content here.

techUK is working to advance the UK's semiconductor industry, including by leading the Chips Coalition. Formed in June 2023, this will produce recommendations for UK Government on how to support the UK semiconductor industry. Areas of focus include how the UK connects to global supply chains and develops the skills and infrastructure to compete internationally.

You can find out more about techUK's work on semiconductors by visiting our UK Semiconductor Hub and read more about the ChipStart programme here

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