The UK has no chance of tech sovereignty Arm founder says
On whether the UK can be technologically self-reliant, Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser has said that there is “no chance in hell.” The entrepreneur has insisted that the country will continue to be reliant on the US unless it creates its own access to critical technologies.
“One question that countries need to ask themselves is whether they have all the critical technologies needed to run a country and its economy. The answer for Britain is absolutely no. There is no chance in hell that Britain could ever become technologically sovereign,” Hermann said.
Hermann was speaking at Bloomberg's Technology Summit in London and one of the main issues he raised was that Britain had a hard time keeping local ownership of tech companies that started there. Using his own company Arm as an example, Hermann noted that the UK government had allowed the company to be sold to Japan's SoftBank for about £24 billion and the company may now end up being listed on the New York Stock Exchange market if the planned public offering goes as planned.
The government also short-sightedly agreed to the transfer of Newport Wafer Fab – the country's largest semiconductor fabrication plant – to a subsidiary of China-based Wingtech and is now deliberating on whether to reverse the deal.
According to Hermann, the high dependency of the UK and other European nations on American companies may come to haunt them as already witnessed during Trump’s administration when the former US president threatened to withhold critical technologies as a way of manipulating other nations.
Semiconductors are critical components in any computer system and Hermann believes that the country should be taking steps to ensure that there is local access to these components.
The only notable step taken by the UK government so far is a report from the House of Lords Library trying to establish whether microchip supply is a national security issue factoring in the global supply chain, production geopolitics, and foreign ownership. The conclusion was that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was working on a semiconductor strategy that would be published “soon” but there have been no further updates on the issue.
This is a bit concerning especially considering that the US and the EU are already taking measures to improve the technological infrastructure within their respective geographies. The US have the $52 billion CHIPS Act while the EU has the €43 billion ($41 billion) European Chips Act which were both introduced this year.