Now, UK seeks semicon ties with India!


Just a couple of days ago, I had touched upon the growing global interest in the Indian semiconductor industry. Well, late last evening, I was present at the release of an important study that seeks collaborations between semicon firms from India and the UK! Talk about interest!!

The India Semiconductor Association (ISA) and the UK Trade & Investment and Science & Innovation Network has launched a study titled “Scope for collaboration between India and the UK in semiconductor driven industry 2008″. The report was launched by Richard Hyde, head – British Trade Office, Bangalore and ISA chairman Jaswinder Ahuja.

Given India’s growing presence in the global semicon industry, the study comes at the right time. UK and Indian semiconductor firms can collaborate to boost India’s IP creation and build next-generation products. There are potential synergies between the two nations in areas such as design, applications and devices.

Indian semicon firms specialize in VLSI, hardware/board-level design and embedded systems in wireless communications, computing and networking. In turn, the UK’s strength lies in IP creation and complete product development.

Richard Hyde remarked that there was lot of compatibility between the UK and Indian semiconductor companies. The study also laid the foundation for the forthcoming Semi Conclave, scheduled for September 15-16 in Bangalore, to be followed by similar events in Hyderabad and New Delhi. “It will bring together the industry and the academia, along with a visiting delegation from the UK.” This event will be jointly organized by ISA, UKTI and SIN.

V. Ravichandar, CMD, Feedback Consulting said the first challenge while preparing the study was to find high-quality data. The ISA in India and the NMI in the UK had such data.

He added: “Firms that exist in India and the UK are essentially design firms. They become complementary as you collaborate.” He highlighted IP creation and product development as the strength of the UK firms, and computing, networking and communications as the strength of the Indian semiconductor firms.

The best fit — Indian universities and UK universities — can be leveraged in the short run. Commenting on clusters, while these were built around places such as Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and New Delhi in India, the UK has clusters in South-East England — in hardware design, Scotland, East England — software engineering, and a balance mix of companies in the South-West of England. India can provide skills in VLSI and EDA, as well as the large talent pool.

The next best fit lies in collaboration between the UK companies and the talent pool in India, which could go a long way in bringing down the research costs. Another fit could be between the companies in the UK and India, or the UK universities and Indian companies. However, the Indian companies might not be able to bring in the kind of funding required for high-end R&D as they are not mature enough.

Another fit could well be sharing of best practices, such as those brought by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and EUROPRACTICE.

“The Indian government also needs to come forward beyond the semicon policy.” Ravichandar added. “There is scope for 30-40 percent reduction in R&D expenses, should collaborations happen between semicon firms from the UK and India.”

Poornima Shenoy, president, ISA, added that the ISA had initiated a Country Series, focusing on specific geographies of relevance to the industry. The report with UKTI is the first in this series.

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