InnovateUK funnels $10m into UK microelectronics infrastructure

Published: 7-Sep-2022

Custom Interconnect has been supported by the investment to add 46,000 sqft to its facility, including a 15,000 sqft ISO Class 7 cleanroom

CIL (Custom Interconnect Ltd) has announced that it is creating an advanced semiconductor packaging, power device and volume Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Assembly (PCBA) manufacturing facility in the UK.

Supported by £9m ($10.3m) in capital investment the 46,000 sqft is in addition to its existing 34,000 sqft, giving CIL over 80,000 sqft in Andover, UK. Following the first stage six-month fit out of its ISO Class 7 (Class 10,000) cleanroom totalling 15,000 sqft and associated offices, all of CIL’s microelectronics production and power device development will relocate to the new facility in March 2023.

CIL has seen very strong demand for its microelectronics and electronic assembly capability through the COVID period. Coupled with its InnovateUK-supported innovation programmes that are focused on strategic areas including power device development and compound semiconductor technology, CIL has generated the demand for this investment in increased capacity and capability.

CIL has seen very strong demand for its microelectronics and electronic assembly capability through the COVID period

Starting with InnovateUK joint funded project “GaNSiC” in 2019 and then followed by APC15 project “@FutureBEV” in 2020, CIL has been supporting the development of GaN and SiC based power modules, discrete devices and associated power PCBA. These two projects have been catalysts to significant further R&D projects that have been supported by national funding programmes including the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), Driving the Electric Revolution centre (DER-IC), DCMS and InnovateUK.

These projects/technologies are all focused on more efficient power electronics in support on Net Zero and span a range of sectors including automotive, rail, aerospace and space, 5G Communications and data-centre infrastructure.

Since 2019, CIL has increased its specialist engineering department from 8 to 30 engineers with further plans to double it again over the next 3 years. This investment in engineering skills coupled with the additional unique processing equipment, will create one of the UK’s largest independent semiconductor packaging facilities, and will accommodate both world leading development labs and full volume production areas. The UK has a thriving Integrated circuit (IC) design community, but very little UK-based packaging capability able to deal with development, low volume and high-volume production, the new facility is the first stage in CIL addressing this capacity requirement.

By March 2023 the stage 1 fit out will be complete and CIL will then relocate its micro-electronic production and power module and device development to this new facility.

What is the timeline

During stage 2 of the fit-out, commencing in Spring 2023, CIL will expand the new facility further, providing an additional 15,000 sqft of manufacturing space dedicated to both GaN/SiC module/device and volume PCBA production required by existing and new customer demand combined with the production readiness of a number of the InnovateUK R&D projects.

The new facility will eventually house 120 engineers, production technicians and related support staff.

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CIL’s existing facilities in Andover-UK, CIL House (24,000 sqft) and Rennie Gate (10,000 sqft) will then gain up to 25% floor space to expand its existing PCBA and full product build capability. All three facilities will be accredited to ISO9001, ISO13485 (Medical), AS9100 and ISO14001. CIL is also preparing for the new facility to be approved to ITAF16949 for Automotive electronics for BEV vehicles.

A combination of the new microelectronics, power device and volume manufacturing facility and its existing enhanced facility will result in CIL being the most advanced electronics development and manufacturing company in the UK. CIL will be able to process from wafer dicing, device packaging, PCBA assembly, inspection, functional test and full product manufacture. This capability and capacity will enable both its existing customer base to realise their growth potential and also position CIL as a central enabler in the “Driving the Electric Revolution” “Net Zero” solution for a greener future.

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