A homegrown business that has become a world leader in the compound semiconductor industry, IQE also runs an Open Innovation programme, sponsored by Welsh Government.
We make some really clever stuff in Wales. Take IQE. It makes hi-tech components for wireless, optical and solar technologies. Established in Cardiff in 1988, it also runs operations in North America and Asia. As Director of External Affairs, Chris Meadows, explains, working in Wales has distinct advantages. “There were eight people when this company began, so I know what it’s like to work for an SME. The industry at the time was all about big companies, like British Telecom and GEC. We were tiny by comparison and now we’re one of the big guys. At talks I might say, We’re a hi-tech company with operations in North America and Asia, and people naturally assume we’re owned by an American company. There is an air of disbelief that a successful company operating in this field could have started in Wales.
“Our main strength in Wales is that we have the capability of being very agile. It’s not just the size of the country. There’s a high concentration of people in South and South East Wales. There are centres of higher education that are very open-minded about collaborating with industry. The best example of that agility is the fact that the business can develop relationships with the Welsh Government. We can meet Ministers and develop a meaningful dialogue with them. That’s just not the case in other countries. There’s also a will in Wales to improve things for the good of people in general, which is not to be under-estimated. The collaboration we have with higher education in South Wales is really important to us. This is something that serves both parties well, in terms of innovation and skills development.
“We need to focus on becoming a world leader in one or two areas of industry. From my point of view, the industry I work in offers huge opportunities for businesses and people to work in. We’re at the heart of a technical revolution and it’s a very exciting place to be.”