Work is well underway at IQE's new 300,000sq ft Newport base, with production due to start in July this year.

The site, at Imperial Park on the west side of Newport, had lain empty for 20 years before IQE took it over.

The tech firm is completely refurbishing the building and is installing hi-tech machinery on a rolling programme to create a state-of-the-art compound semiconductor foundry so that production can start as soon as possible.

Business Argus recently visited the site to see how the work was progressing and we were shown round by Chris Meadows, head of open innovation at IQE.

Mr Meadows said it was hoped that the land next to the site, which once formed part of the LG complex, would be used to create an incubator hub for businesses which use compound semiconductors in various ways.

He explained that they were used for all sorts of modern applications, including in most mobile telephones, but explained that they would be integral to any future driveless car technology.

Last year the Cardiff Capital Region Cabinet agreed to contribute £38.5m from the CCR City Deal’s Wider Investment Fund towards the establishment by IQE plc of the cutting-edge facility, as an anchor in the region for high end production of compound semiconductors.

The signing was the first such investment since the £1.2bn CCR City Deal programme was formally signed on March 1, 2017.

Since the signing, IQE has experienced considerable growth and has started recruiting for more than 50 roles at the Newport site, signifying the positive growth of the compound semiconductor cluster in the region.

Dr Drew Nelson, founder and CEO of IQE plc, said: “Compound semiconductors are rapidly defining 21st century technologies, and Wales is uniquely positioned to be centre stage of this global, hi-tech industry sector.

"The dedicated compound semiconductor facility between Cardiff and Newport will act as a key component of the burgeoning cluster that is already cementing Wales' reputation for technology leadership.

"The initiative is a shining example of what can be achieved through collaboration.

"The facility will become the base for a number of compound semiconductor related activities, including IQE, where we expect to rapidly expand our production capacity to meet increasing demand for our technology.”

A spokesman for for IQE, which has its head office at St Mellons, near Newport, said: "At IQE, innovation and collaboration have always been the corner stones of our business.

"The UK, and in particular, Wales, is home to a growing number of organisations and businesses which are active in this increasingly important industry sector and the CS Connected cluster will help to unite international businesses, policymakers and academics who are building next-generation technology that can position Wales as a technology world-leader."

The foundry is set to become the base for a number of compound semiconductor related activities, including IQE, helping the establishment of the CS connected Cluster with the potential to create up to 2,000 high skilled jobs.