ATU Unveils New Partnership to Explore Economic Opportunities in the Global Semiconductor Supply Chain

A multi-stakeholder event, spearheaded by ATU, in partnership with Tyndall National Institute (Tyndall) and Ulster University (UU), was held at the Atlantic Technological University (ATU) campus, Letterkenny on Monday, September 18, exploring the economic opportunities presented by the newly adopted EU Chips Act.

Semiconductors are the essential components of electronic devices, playing a vital role in the modern digital economy from healthcare to food security, global communications and future mobility. However, recent supply chain disruptions have led to a critical supply shortage, exposing Europe’s over-reliance on imports.

Through the European Chips Act, designed to boost self-sufficiency, the EU aims to double its current global market share to 20% by 2030.

Using case studies and panel conversations, “NW of Ireland and the Opportunity in the Global Semiconductor Value Chain” brought together prominent business leaders, policymakers, academia, and elected officials in Letterkenny to explore how Ireland can position itself as a leader in photonics and semiconductor research and manufacturing while simultaneously addressing the deficits in high-value employment and research infrastructure in the Northwest. Industry representatives in attendance included Eblana Photonics, Cirdan, Yelo, Causeway Sensors, Allstate, Kelsius, Firecomms, and Nuprint.

During the event, invitees got a chance to engage with distinguished speakers and international experts who shared their knowledge and expertise including Dr Wyn Meredith, Chair of the South Wales Compound Semiconductor Cluster, and Valerie Moreau of the Laval Mayenne Technopole in France.

L-R Dr Stephen Seawright, ATU, Peter Smyth, Tyndall, Professor William Scanlon, Tyndall, Dr Nick Timmons, ATU, Gerry Kindlon, Seagate, Maria Gallagher, ATU, Peter Devine, UU

ATU President, Dr Orla Flynn said: “This cross-border initiative unites universities, research institutes, and industry across Ireland to catalyse research, develop new technologies, drive productivity, create jobs, increase STEM diversity, and strengthen the regional economy. With the generous support of stakeholders including the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, local authorities, and industry partners, this consortium has the potential to play a pivotal role in boosting the competitiveness of the semiconductor industry across the island of Ireland.

Professor Liam Maguire, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research at UU highlighted how the collaborative provision of cross-border education could significantly boost the regional semiconductor talent pool: “This is an exciting knowledge exchange opportunity to further cooperation between third-level institutions in the Northwest. Through collaborative research and development initiatives, as well as training and education programmes, we can support resilient semiconductor supply chains that foster innovation and investment into our communities through an inclusive workforce.”

Speaking on behalf of the Smart Nano NI cluster, led by data storage company Seagate Technology, Matt Johnson, Senior Vice President Wafer Process Engineering and Systems, commented: “This new all-island collaboration will complement the Smart Nano NI cluster in developing advanced prototyping and smart manufacturing technologies across Northern Ireland. Key to success will be the combined expertise of our companies and the advancement of talent and research infrastructure. We are delighted to be involved in this exciting project which has the potential to put the border region on the global map for semiconductor technology.”

Panel Discussion, NW of Ireland and the Opportunity in the Global Semiconductor Value Chain

Professor William Scanlon, CEO of leading semiconductor research institute, Tyndall, said: “The recent adoption of the EU Chips Act presents a unique and timely opportunity for Ireland to bolster its leadership in semiconductors and photonics.

As a longstanding innovator in semiconductor technology, Ireland must act now to build on its well-established strategic advantages in the sector, and mobilising public-private R&D partnerships to lead and leverage cumulative expertise is critical for our future economic success.

Our alliance with ATU and UU represents a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to accelerate north-south research and innovation in support of a diverse and growing, internationally competitive semiconductor industry.”