China produces 80% of the world's supplies of gallium and germanium, which are used to make semiconductors. JENS SCHLUETER/AFP News

In a historic stride towards international collaboration and innovation, the United Kingdom's Department for Business and Trade (DBT) is leading the first-ever UK Semiconductors Business Delegation to Taiwan.

This significant milestone in the realm of semiconductor technology will be marked by the UK Pavilion's showcase at the 2023 SEMICON Taiwan, where 19 high-growth, innovative British businesses will highlight the UK's prowess in the semiconductor sector.

The delegation's visit, scheduled from September 5th onwards, aims to foster trade, investment, and research collaboration in Taiwan's semiconductor landscape, according to an official statement from the British Office in Taipei.

At the forefront of this delegation is Professor Julia Sutcliffe, the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) at the UK's DBT. Professor Sutcliffe is leading a contingent of British businesses poised to explore opportunities and partnerships in Taiwan, a global hub for semiconductor manufacturing.

With the semiconductor sector experiencing exponential growth and technological advancements, this delegation visit holds the potential to catalyse groundbreaking collaborations between the two nations.

The participation of the United Kingdom in SEMICON Taiwan 2023 is notably informed by the UK's National Semiconductor Strategy, released in May, which accentuated the country's strengths in compound semiconductors, research and development, intellectual property, and chip design.

Through the platform of SEMICON Taiwan, the UK delegation will showcase innovative designs, software, equipment, and materials, providing a mere glimpse into the extensive offerings of the UK's semiconductor sector.

A key driver behind this delegation's visit is the foundation of the UK-Taiwan science and technology relations, which are underpinned by two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs). The first MoU was established between Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult and Taiwan's ITRI in 2020, followed by another between Innovate UK and Taiwan's Department of Industrial Technology, MOEA, last year.

These collaborations have been further fortified by recent bilateral research and development funding competitions. With the delegation's visit, both Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult and Innovate UK aim to deepen the bilateral collaboration between the UK and Taiwan in this sector.

Beyond the dynamic SEMICON Taiwan programme, the delegation is also set to engage in an innovative Research and Development pitch forum hosted by ITRI in Hsinchu. This endeavour underscores the commitment of both nations to advancing cutting-edge research and development, potentially laying the groundwork for groundbreaking technological breakthroughs in the semiconductor realm.

Professor Sutcliffe's itinerary extends beyond the exhibition halls and research forums. She is slated to meet with Audrey Tang, Taiwan's Minister of Digital Affairs, to build on the collaborative foundations laid during Minister Tang's visit to London Tech Week in June. This meeting is emblematic of the determination to foster meaningful partnerships beyond national boundaries.

Furthermore, Professor Sutcliffe's agenda includes visits to esteemed institutions such as UMC, Academia Sinica, and the Taiwan Space Agency. These visits are aimed at bolstering the UK's ties with Taiwan's science and technology community, with the potential for future joint initiatives and shared research endeavours.

In anticipation of the delegation's visit, Professor Sutcliffe expressed her enthusiasm for the journey ahead. She lauded Taiwan's comprehensive semiconductor ecosystem, encompassing design, foundry, assembly, testing facilities, and a vast network of suppliers and vendors.

Notably, she emphasised the UK's position as a global leader in emerging semiconductor materials, design, intellectual property, device research, and design automation.

Previously in July, the United Kingdom and Taiwan reinforced their long-standing trade and investment relationship as they hosted the 26th annual UK-Taiwan Trade Talks.

This significant event came in the wake of a burgeoning trade partnership, with bilateral trade between the two nations having reached an impressive £8.6 billion in 2022.

As both countries sought to expand their economic horizons, the UK had taken additional steps to strengthen its international trade relations by acceding to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade group in New Zealand.

The accession to CPTPP marked a momentous occasion for the UK, as Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch signed the treaty to become a member of this modern and ambitious trade deal, which encompassed 12 economies across Asia, the Pacific, and Europe.

This move underscored the UK's commitment to forging stronger ties with global partners and harnessing new opportunities in a rapidly evolving international trade landscape.