Shock at U.K. government's plastic fab failure
By Richard Wilson -- Electronics Weekly, 1/17/2007
The industry has been stunned by the U.K. government’s failure to support the building of Plastic Logic’s $100 million semiconductor production facility in the U.K. rather than Germany.
Despite investing more than $2.9 million (1.5 million pounds) of public money in the Cambridge, England-based company’s R&D activities, the necessary support was not available in the U.K. when Plastic Logic planned its first production facility.
“This is a great concern to us and should be for others too,” Derek Boyd, chief executive of the NMI told Electronics Weekly. “Where the U.K. can compete on R&D, skills and clusters it cannot compete on the level of subsidies that other regions have,” said Boyd.
Electronics Weekly understands that Plastic Logic considered the U.K. when looking for the best European location to carry out their high-tech manufacturing. Wales made it on to Plastic Logic’s top five list, but was disadvantaged because it could not provide a competitive greenfield site and attractive grant.
“Are we doing enough to support, grow and retain them beyond the early stages? … It appears not,” said Boyd.
Boyd plans to question the government on the issue. “It is unclear to us how the U.K. will effectively compete in the long-term if we do not fully support businesses in a holistic sense, ie. R&D, design and manufacturing,” said Boyd.
“The case of Plastic Logic is especially interesting as it has the potential to be truly disruptive and has the potential to create a schism in electronics manufacturing. It is on this basis that we will be contacting government to help us understand their considered strategy for the U.K. more fully,” said Boyd.
Boyd believes that European policy has created a playing field that is not level and U.K. appears to be at a significant disadvantage. “We believe the U.K. government should be encouraging and supporting high-tech manufacturing; the cases of Plastic Logic and MED are two excellent examples where the U.K. is leading the field in new, high-tech areas but policy out forces further deployment,” said Boyd.
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