AES Semigas


28 March 2024

Pragmatic officially opens UK’s first 300mm wafer fab

In a ceremony attended by HRH The Princess Royal as well as key customers, ecosystem partners, investors and government officials, Pragmatic Semiconductor of Cambridge, UK has officially opened what is the UK’s first 300mm wafer fabrication line. The manufacturing facility at the 60,000m2 Pragmatic Park brownfield site near Durham in North-East England produces chips based on the firm’s unique flexible integrated circuit (FlexIC) technology.

Incorporating layers of indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO), Pragmatic’s FlexICs are said to be low-cost, more sustainable alternatives to silicon chips, with an ultra-thin flexible form factor that enables connect, sense and compute capabilities, fuelling the Internet of Things (IoT) across sectors including consumer, industrial, and healthcare.

The aim is to provide “item-level intelligence to trillions of smart objects over the next decade across a wide range of applications with significant opportunities in smart packaging of fast-moving consumer goods that will significantly improve levels of reuse and recycling, transforming waste management”. Other use cases include wearables, sensors and flexible controllers. “Such intelligence at scale has the power to accelerate the digital transformation across industries,” reckons CEO David Moore.

Pragmatic’s manufacturing line in Durham, UK.

Picture: Pragmatic’s manufacturing line in Durham, UK.

Pragmatic Park has the capacity to host up to nine fabrication lines, each capable of producing billions of chips per year. The firm’s sustainable approach extends to manufacturing, using fewer process steps and a more concentrated footprint than standard silicon fabs. The optimized manufacturing process supports rapid production cycles of less than 48 hours, at low cost. It is also said to use significantly less energy and water than typical silicon manufacturing, and fewer harmful gases. “Sustainability is at the very core of our technology and extends to how FlexICs enable our customers to further drive innovations and pathways through their products and services towards global net-zero goals,” says Moore.

Also, Pragmatic’s modular ‘Fab-in-a-Box’ approach supports co-location of end-to-end FlexIC manufacturing at customers sites, rationalizing extended supply chains and providing additional levels of security and resilience. Pragmatic says that the manufacturing facility enables it to meet the growing demand for its technology from customers worldwide. Over the next five years Pragmatic expects to create more than 500 jobs in the North-East of England and Cambridge.

“The bank invested in Pragmatic to support low-carbon domestic manufacturing of semiconductors in the UK,” says Simon Little, banking & investments director, UKIB and Pragmatic board member. “The official opening of Pragmatic Park in Durham marks a pivotal next step in its journey,” he adds.

“The UK has a very supportive ecosystem for providing early-stage funding, but it becomes challenging for businesses looking for later-stage capital,” comments fellow Pragmatic board member Niranjan Sirdeshpande, global head of M&G’s Catalyst strategy. “By providing growth equity to enterprising tech disruptors such as Pragmatic, M&G’s £5bn Catalyst strategy can help them to scale, provide expertise and partner with them all the way to success. Put to work in this way, patient capital can support economic growth and capture value for peoples’ pensions and savings as we transition to a more sustainable economy. We are proud to support Pragmatic’s work in Durham with tech advancement in this critical part of the UK's national infrastructure.”

See related items:

North East Advanced Material Electronics cluster launched in UK

Tags: Microelectronics



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