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Arm co-founder: Britain's chip strat 'couldn’t be any worse'

Lack of route to domestic semiconductor supply best of British stuffup, says Urquhart

Another of Arm's founders has criticized the UK government over its technology strategy, or rather the lack of it, as the country's long-awaited semiconductor blueprint has still yet to be published.

Jamie Urquhart, one of the co-founders of the Brit chip design company and who now works as an adviser, said the government's game plan "couldn't be any worse than it is at the moment."

The remarks come after another Arm champion, Hermann Hauser, criticized the approach last year and joined a group of other tech industry sages urging the politicians to take immediate action.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Urquhart said there has been very little continuity in the British government's strategy on technology and semiconductors in particular, perhaps a reference to the tendency of successive governments to tear up the previous administration's policies.

"Even now we are waiting for the government to come out with a semiconductor strategy," he commented. "It doesn't take that much to start looking forward and thinking about what you are going to do, but you've got to do it."

The government's official semiconductor strategy was expected at least as far back as April last year, when Lord Callanan informed the House of Commons that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was working on one "to be published shortly."

In November 2022, a House of Commons Committee report said the UK was missing out on semiconductor investment due to an absent strategic plan of action.

It contained testimony from witnesses such as Rina Pal-Goetzen, director of global policy at the US Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), who had told the Committee that decisions were being made "right now" by companies on where to locate manufacturing over the next five to 10 years, and that it was "very urgent" that countries should consider whether they wanted to be part of the supply chain.

In January, a group of technology industry leaders published an open letter to the Prime Minister warning that Britain's status as a leading tech ecosystem is at risk over the delay, and that technology and manufacturing sectors have been waiting more than two years for a promised strategy.

One of the signatories to the letter was Hermann Hauser, who last year said that the UK has "no chance in hell" of being technologically self-reliant, and that Europe and the UK needed to have access to critical technologies so as not to be dependent on other countries such as the US.

Hauser said at the time the situation for the UK was particularly dire thanks to no discernible technology plan from the government, and it seems like we are still waiting, despite the government's insistence at numerous points over the past 12 months that its document "will be published as soon as possible."

"I think the government are just either unwilling to grasp the nettle or maybe they've got way too many things to do and aren't thinking about it," Urquhart said. ®

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