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UK chip start-ups 'changing the future'


Twelve semiconductor design start-ups have joined government-backed incubator – ChipStart – launched through the National Semiconductor Strategy.

British start-ups solving complex global issues through the design of semiconductor chips have been named as members of a new government-backed incubator that will provide support as they grow into future global chip leaders.

Nearly every piece of technology in the world depends on semiconductor chips. Companies chosen for the pilot are already innovating in a range of exciting areas, including developing chips for brain implants that will address debilitating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, groundbreaking chips that could boost the capability and efficiency of AI and new ways of reducing vast energy use in data centres across the world, helping to tackle climate change.

ChipStart is a two-year pilot programme backed by the Government that will provide early-stage companies involved in the design of semiconductors with the technical and commercial help they need to help bring new products to market – and ultimately improve lives and livelihoods in the long-term.

The £1.3m 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.

Minister for Technology Paul Scully said: “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.”

Among the companies that have been announced as joining the pilot today are MintNeuro, which is pioneering the use of semiconductor technology to support patients with neurological conditions by developing physical neural implants that can reduce the need for surgery.

Mignon and Vaire Computing have also joined the pilot, both design hardware that is built to run large-scale AI models using more efficient chips – allowing AI models to use less energy and computer resource, leading to more efficient training and research.

Silicon Catalyst.UK CEO Sean Redmond said: "This is one of the most exciting times to start and grow a globally successful semiconductor company from the UK. The first group of 12 UK semiconductor startups to enter ChipStart UK incubator have been selected from 27 applications following two rounds of intensive panel interviews made up of semiconductor startup experts from the UK and Silicon Valley. Over the next 9 months we will shape and mould these outstanding new innovative companies into the next generation of semiconductor leaders."

The UK’s established 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.

The pilot is a clear example of the Government’s commitment to working in partnership with the semiconductor industry to support the competitiveness of UK businesses, and to achieve the wider goals of the National Semiconductor Strategy by growing the UK sector through building on our strengths.

The programme will run two consecutive cohorts and end in March 2025. Start-ups that have been chosen will be provided with:

Access to, and support for, commercial design capability. This includes the full Silicon Catalyst ecosystem, access to design tools, IP, and prototyping capability.

Commercial expertise and bespoke mentorship. Startups will be mentored by experienced semiconductor industry executives and connected into Silicon Catalyst’s global network.

Exposure to private capital. Participant companies will also have access to the 270+ Silicon Catalyst advisors, Strategic Partners, and an extensive network of investment groups.

UK chip start-ups 'changing the future'
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