Councils in South East Wales, of which Monmouthshire County Council is one, will aim to put the region “to the forefront of conversation” around new investment in the semiconductor industry.
The tiny components are used in electronics and computers ranging from household appliances to military equipment, and the UK Government has labelled the sector one of its five “technologies of tomorrow”.
The ongoing development of a “cluster” of plants in this corner of Wales, including several factories in Newport, means the region can cement its place at the heart of the UK’s new semiconductor strategy, according to a report by Rhys Thomas, the acting director of the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR).
The CCR is a joint project between the ten local authorities covering South East Wales – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen, and the Vale of Glamorgan – focusing on economic development.
It has made the region’s semiconductor sector a “priority industrial cluster” and believes the UK Government’s new investment in the industry will give the CCR a “strong opportunity to take the lead” in research and development.
There remains a degree of concern, however, over a recent “downturn” in the market for semiconductors, blamed on a decline in sales of smartphones and other electronics.
That downturn is “expected to last throughout the first half of 2023, with a return to growth being predicted by industry commentators in the second half of the year”.
And in Newport, uncertainty still looms over the future of the Wafer Fab plant after the UK Government ordered owners Nexperia to reverse its takeover, citing national security concerns.