Semiconductor manufacturers must abandon protectionist trade measures and focus more on chip design if they are to compete in the global electronics market.
This is the view of a leading academic, speaking this week at the opening of a £24m design centre in Basingstoke. Opened by the $500m turnover Cypress Semiconductor, the new centre will employ up to 60 designers working on a range of high performance chips for the US firm.
`The UK is Europe’s top exporter of chips, television sets and personal computers. But EU-wide tariffs on chip imports make us uncompetitive on the world market,’ said Tim Spracklen, professor of engineering at Aberdeen University.
Despite the tariffs, competitiveness of EU chip manufacturers has declined by 50% since 1988, said Spracklen.
With semiconductors set to account for 10% of Britain’s GDP by 2005, it was vital to pay attention to the world shortage of chip designers, he said. `If we encourage design, manufacture and the rest of the electronics infrastructure will follow.’
Spracklen called for better links with universities and schools to promote chip design. `Britain’s universities have a tradition of teaching chip design but there is no substitute for working with experienced people from industry,’ he said.