News & Analysis

North east firms collaborate in advanced materials group

27th July 2022
Mick Elliott

The North East Advanced Materials Electronics (NEAME) cluster group has been launched today (July 27).

Its mission is to highlight and promote the region as a centre of excellence for advanced compound semiconductor technology design and manufacture.

NEAME is a cluster led by CEOs and other senior decision makers in the North East electronics industry, with the intention of providing a central voice both to raise the profile of the region and to help its members address their main challenges and opportunities profitably.

The sector makes a significant contribution to the regional economy and is projected to contribute £447m Gross Value Added by 2026, with the potential to create and support around 4,500 jobs. 

International factors mean all companies in the sector face significant supply chain challenges.  The group will act as a single voice to raise the profile of the region’s competencies and address the main challenges and opportunities for advanced material electronics.

Electronic components based on compound semiconductor technology – materials like gallium nitride – can outperform silicon devices in speed, size and energy efficiency, powering transformational applications including electric and autonomous vehicles, satellite and 5G/6G communications, energy decarbonisation, IoT (Internet of Things) sensors and computer imaging technologies.

“NEAME is an opportunity to showcase this region’s strength within advanced material electronics. What has always struck me about this area is the level of innovation that is happening every day on our doorstep,” said Richard Gibbs (pictured) of Filtronic. 

Ken Williamson, Pragmatic Chief Operating Officer said, "The North East of England is a powerhouse for innovation and quality in advanced material electronics. At Pragmatic we have demonstrated our commitment with our investment in PragmatIC Park, we believe this represents the future of UK semiconductor manufacturing” 

Within a 25-mile radius of Sedgefield, there are several high-technology companies whose names may not yet be widely recognised.

For example, Kromek – the world’s largest cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) facility – is based at NETPark, where it is developing and manufacturing radiation detection devices. 

Filtronic, which like Kromek is a recent winner of a Queens Award for Enterprise – International Trade, designs and manufactures state-of-the-art high-frequency electronic modules that connect telecommunications systems in space and for terrestrial 5G mobile networks. 

PragmatIC raised $90m in its Series C funding round last year and is the first large-scale semiconductor manufacturing facility to be announced in the UK for several decades and will house the very first state-of-the-art 300mm fab in the country.

Equally Evince Technology is developing an innovative process to manufacture electronic devices on synthetic-diamond substrates, that promises to revolutionise electronics. 

Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield who officially launched the group said, ‘The North East continues to pioneer and develop new technologies that can have a huge impact on a global scale. The formation of the NEAME highlights the strength of the region’s growing advanced material electronics sector and presents an opportunity to develop the skills and the jobs of the future, establishing the North East as a global hub for this technology.

Jillian Hughes, NMI Director who hosted the launch said, "NMI are delighted to be continuing our support of the UK semiconductor industry by hosting the announcement of the NEAME during our Annual conference.  During the last 25 years we have supported the semiconductor design, manufacturing and supplier communities adding value through collaboration, networking and knowledge sharing."

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