Venturefest has announced the headline speakers for the event on 9th June, with Col Needham, founder and CEO of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and Scott Wilcox, the Director of Technology for SXSW Eco.
Col and Scott will be part of a Thought Leadership Conference at Venturefest in the Passenger Shed at Bristol Temple Meads which will highlight the latest developments on key issues affecting innovators and investors.
Col Needham founded IMDb 25 years ago in Bristol before it was acquired by Amazon in 1998. He continues to serve as the founder and CEO of IMDb and is now a key figure in the global film industry.
Scott Wilcox, who has firmly established South by South West Eco as the international conference on the future of sustainability, will be presenting his insights into the latest US and international green technology developments and outlining the opportunities for entrepreneurs in the region. This is a key part of Bristol’s role as the Green Capital of Europe this year.
The appointment of Warren East, former chief executive of chip designer ARM, to head up Rolls Royce demonstrates a key shift in the importance of the high tech industries.
The successor to John Rishton, CEO from 2011 to 2015, came from an extensive international search and shows the importance of microelectronics and embedded software to Rolls Royce which has a large aerospace base in Bristol. The company doesn’t really sell engines, even though it has a £73bn order book for them – it leases many of them and sells ‘time in the air’ instead. This has meant an increasing reliance on monitoring the engines with sensor technologies, security and global software management. All this maps directly onto the skill set of executives like Warren East. As CEO of ARM Holdings from 2001 to 2013 he helped ARM become one of the world’s leading developers of semiconductors with an outstanding record of innovation and a strong commitment to R&D.
Ian Davis, Chairman of Rolls-Royce, said: “I am very pleased that Warren East will become the new Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce following John Rishton’s retirement. Warren has an outstanding record as CEO of ARM Holdings. He is an engineer by training; he has a deep understanding of technology and of developing long-term partnerships. He has proven strategic and leadership skills in a global business and a strong record of value creation.
Warren East said: “I am delighted to be appointed as Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce. It is well positioned in growth markets, with world class engineering skills and a proud record of innovation and delivery. I have a strong desire to return to an executive position with the energy and enthusiasm a role like this demands. The markets which Rolls-Royce serves and the technology it deploys are fascinating. ”
As well as being a Non-Executive Director of Rolls-Royce, Warren East serves as a Non-Executive Director on the Boards of BT, De La Rue, local engineering company Dyson, US memory chip maker Micron and the UK’s Digital Catapult. His intention is to stand down from all but one of his current roles as a Non-Executive Director, in line with Rolls-Royce company policy.
Rolls Royce employs over 54,000 people in more than 50 countries, with over 15,500 of these being engineers. It also has a Land & Sea division for Marine, Nuclear and Power Systems, where projects such as unmanned, autonomous ships are being developed. In 2014, Rolls-Royce invested £1.2 billion on research and development and supports a global network of 31 University Technology Centres. There are over 1,000 Rolls-Royce STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassadors who are actively involved in education programmes and activities, and the company has a target to reach 6 million people through its STEM outreach activities by 2020.
East will be paid £925,000 with share incentives up to £1.6m. While at ARM he had a salary of £500,000 but is reported to have left ARM with 450,000 shares worth £4 million from the group’s long-term incentive plan and deferred annual bonus plan.
One of the world’s most popular real time operating systems is developed and supported in Bristol and has now been ported to a highly configurable high performance processor for applications in wearable designs and the internet of things (IoT).
FreeRTOS is a popular, scalable, easy-to-use real-time kernel designed specifically for small, low-power embedded systems. According to a 2013 market share study from UBM Tech, FreeRTOS had been selected for 13 percent of embedded projects that utilize an embedded operating system (OS), and is a very popular option for microcontrollers as well as smaller 32-bit processor cores. It has now been ported onto the Tensilica family of configurable processors from Cadence Design Systems. The Tensilica cores are configured from a software tool so they are optimised for a particular application with no wasted resources and can be easily integrated into a System-on-Chip design. The tool also generates the software development environment for the particular core.
“The availability of FreeRTOS on Tensilica processors and DSPs means that Cadence customers now have the option to join the many developers worldwide who already benefit from the ease of use and bullet-proof reliability of FreeRTOS. We look forward to welcoming Tensilica users to our global community,” said Richard Barry, FreeRTOS developer and principal engineer of Real Time Engineers Ltd. FreeRTOS makes it easier for programmers to develop complex real-time software that combines control and DSP threads, and FreeRTOS has specific support for Internet of Things (IoT) applications that helps customers get to market faster. Tensilica processors and DSPs are ideal for wearables and other IoT applications that combine wireless digital signal processing with control. By combining digital signal processing and control, designers can develop lower power, more efficient chips.
UltraSoC, the Cambridge-based developer of advanced debugging and analytic technology for embedded systems, has appointed Rupert Baines as its new CEO.
Baines, a Bath-based 30-year veteran of the global semiconductor and communications industries, has previously held senior roles in both start-ups and prominent trans-national companies. Most recently he was VP of Strategic Marketing at Mindspeed in Bath following that company’s acquisition of Picochip (now part of Intel), where he had served as VP of Marketing. His CV also includes spells at first:telecom (acquired by Atlantic Telecom for $818 million), Arthur D Little and Analog Devices, where he played a key role in the development and mass-market adoption of digital subscriber line (DSL).
“UltraSoC has a great team and game-changing technology,” said Baines. “We’re not only empowering designers to create better products ‘first-up’, more quickly and easily – we’re also giving them the opportunity to use connectedness and analytics to refine the performance and features of those products when they’re actually in use. This really has never been possible before.”
UltraSoC’s core offering embeds debug and analysis capabilities into the silicon chips that are used in today’s electronic products. This allows chip designers to design and debug their devices more quickly, and to offer their customers innovative features such as in-service power consumption optimization, self-testing and failure detection.
“Rupert has an outstanding track record of success in leadership and category definition in technology markets,” said Chris Gilbert, Chairman of the UltraSoC board and formerly CEO of Swindon-based Ubiquisys, acquired in 2013 by Cisco in a $310m trade sale. “We believe his passion and ability to translate great technology into real-world impact are exactly what’s needed to take UltraSoC to the next level of success.”
UltraSoC’s VC investors include Octopus Investments, whose Ventures team has helped build global businesses such as Zoopla Property Group, Secret Escapes, SwiftKey, graze.com and YPlan.
Interesting data on global wages for tech developers from Techcrunch as it acknowledges its not just about London either ….
The economics are even better for Bristol & Bath, coupled with a much higher quality of life
The Bristol is Open programme is aiming to be the world’s first programmable city by opening up a scalable software defined network (SDN) operating system to researchers and companies.
The netOS operating system developed by the High Performance Computing group at the University of Bristol runs on the BlueCrystal supercomputer at the University and controls a network of 144 fibres across the city of Bristol, giving terabit/s of bandwidth. The key to the programme is that the network can be divided up into separate virtual ‘slices’ so that many applications can all run independently. This will allow individual applications from 100Mbit/s up to 100Gbit/s to be tested out, something which hasn’t been possible up until now, says Prof Dimitira Simeonidou, head of the research group and chief technology officer of Bristol is Open. All of this is combined into the CityOS and makes it fundamentally different to other smart cities such as Barcelona.
The network currently has four nodes connecting the University, the EngineShed business acceleration centre, the Watershed digital creative incubator and the @Bristol science centre. This will allow startups to use the network to develop new smart city hardware and applications. It will also allow the Planetarium at @Bristol to be used to display immersive 3D Ultra HD video over the network coupled with data from BlueCrystal.
Part of the aim is to be able to research future generations of technologies needed for mobile wireless, says . “We are researching 5G at the moment but this has to be able to support 10Gbit/s speeds for when 10G wireless comes along,” she said. Elements of this are already happening with Blu Wireless Technology using its 60GHz gigabit wireless technology to connect to the network.
The optical switches are coming from Polatis and BiO has signed a memorandum of understanding with NEC for more network equipment. It is also working with Silver Spring to install a mesh network using the WiSUN protocol on lampposts across the city to collect data. Bristol City Council will also make data from the city available as part of the programme.
The other key aspect is the ability to emulate, rather than simulate, other cities with many more nodes. The emulator is based on Xilinx FPGA cards and allows the network topology of other larger cities to be run on the BiO infrastructure. This would allow cities such as New York or Hong Kong to test out new topologies and applications for 1000 or 1500 nodes, using real infrastructure and real data, without impacting on the running of a megacity. And because the Bristol network is connected to high bandwidth academic networks such as SuperJANET, real data can be used to test out the emulation in real time. Bristol’s sister city of Guangzhou in China is already interested in using this capability.
So how easy is Bristol’s success to replicate asks the FT? The city’s digital entrepreneurs describe several key advantages.The area has a strong pool of workers with engineering expertise. For years, Bristol and its surroundings have been a base for microelectronics and aerospace companies. Hewlett-Packard, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce have all had a substantial presence in recent times.
Another interesting statistic quoted in the article is that engineers are 30-50% cheaper in the region than in London.
Blu Wireless Technology has been demonstrating its HYDRA gigabit modem technology in a chip at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona (see video below).
The baseband system IP for 60GHz wireless has been implemented in a 40nm CMOS chip that can be used for the ‘WiGig’ 802.11ad 60GHz version of wifi that is starting to get traction in laptops and talets. It can also be used for wireless Back Haul for LTE mobile networks and for other high speed networks such as Bristol is Open which formally launches tomorrow (as detailed in the January High Tech newsletter). Bristol startup BWT supplies a complete multi-Gigabit capable baseband processor with all the associated firmware so that customers can quickly build their own millimetre wave gigabit wireless modem chips.
“The successful validation and demonstration of our HYDRA Gigabit System IP represents a major milestone in Blu Wireless’s technology roadmap,” said Henry Nurser, Blu Wireless Technology CEO. “Customers looking to license HYDRA for their own millimetre wave products can now be confident in going to market with this class leading technology.”
HYDRA, developed in Bristol, is based on a unique and patented architecture, which combines software defined parallel processing functions. These are controlled using a MIPS microAptiv CPU with hardware accelerators for fixed communication functions. This allows customers to adapt and add value to wireless modem applications with unique algorithms for channel equalisation, modulation or beamforming – all programmable through the robust, industry standard software tools provided by Imagination Technologies for its MIPS CPUs. Imagination has two design centres in the region.
This collaboration with Imagination is vital, says Nurser to get the maximum performance and efficiency from the multiple MIPS CPUs in the design. “Blu Wireless has made excellent progress with their innovative HYDRA IP implementation on 40nm,” said Tony King-Smith, EVP of marketing at Imagination Technologies. “We’re impressed with the performance they have achieved, thanks in part to MIPS’ high-performance, power-efficient architecture for multi-core embedded designs, and our comprehensive MIPS tools. ”
Since late 2014 the lead HYDRA chip has been integrated with a 60 GHz phased array radio front-end to create Blu Wireless’s Lightning evaluation and development platform which are available now as well. The module integrates a full ‘OpenFlow’ SDN client which supports wireless mesh networking. It is currently being deployed as part of Bristol is Open to demonstrate gigabit rate wireless mesh networking for dynamic data backhaul applications.
The ‘Lightning’ module is integrated into a robust mechanical housing for deployment in outdoor applications and is available with a mounting kit for lamppost deployment.
Mark Barrett, CMO at Blu Wireless said: “The ‘Lightning’ module represents a total system solution for the next generation of flexible gigabit capable backhaul technologies. The unique combination of low profile 60 GHz phased array technology, gigabit modem and adaptive mesh networking using SDN ‘Openflow’ techniques will deliver lower TCO and scalable data delivery capabilities to service the increased data demand of mobile networks”
A major piece of research is being undertaken to ensure the West of England region capitalises on the huge opportunities the future of gaming, animation and visual effects will bring following the successful SW VR conference.
Bristol design tool startup Somnium Technologies is using the local expertise of TVS to test out its technology before its launch.
Somnium has developed a new way of developing embedded code to make the process much more reliable and bug free, and TVS performed important installation testing of Somnium DRT. This uses a patented resequencing technology to automatically optimise embedded software, resulting in smaller, faster executables. Before DRT’s general availability release, Somnium wanted to be confident of the best out of the box experience for its customers, who use a wide variety of host platforms, so it contacted TVS for its proven experience in this field.
“Installation is the first step in the user experience, and it is often under-tested in real-user scenarios,” said Dave Edwards, Founder and CEO/CTO of Somnium Technologies. “We felt it was best practise to bring in a level of independence and we naturally turned to TVS because of its expertise in this area.”
Jamie Packer, VP of Customer Engineering at Somnium added: “We already perform extensive automated testing of functionality and standards compliance using several test suites. However, it is impossible to automate the experience of new users with different expectations and a variety of hardware and software configurations. The testing performed by TVS was extremely useful and thorough. TVS tried a number of interesting corner cases. This has led to improvements in both the installation process and the documentation.”
“SOMNIUM is very proactive in recognising the importance of independent installation testing. Many companies overlook this aspect, and hence many new users report a negative experience when starting with a new tool,” said Mike Bartley, Founder and CEO of TVS.
The first event under the new partnership will focus on sustainability and take place on March 11th at the Gloucestershire offices of global engineering giant Renishaw. Attendees will be welcomed by Gareth Hankins, the company’s Manufacturing Director, and hear about ‘Sustainability the Renishaw approach’ before a Q&A session and a site tour to finish.
Tech firms across the South West have benefited from the latest £47m round of the government’s Regional Growth Fun
LED developer and manufacturer Plessey Semiconductors in Plymouth and Swindon, specialist automotive test equipment maker Anthony Best Dynamics Ltd in Bradford on Avon, chip designer Cambridge Silicon Radio in Bristol and test systems maker Spirent Communications in Paignton have all received backing from round 6 of the fund. Avanti Communications Group in Penzance and Hymec Aerospace (UK) in Plymouth are also beneficiaries
A TEAM of Exeter University students have reached the final four of an international competition to showcase technological innovation.
The Computer Science undergraduates devised a ground-breaking home security system which allows doors to be locked and unlocked via a normal mobile phone. The four-strong team of Matthew Gilbert, Joshua Holmes, George Young and Ashleigh Udoh were one of around 20 university teams from across the UK and the US to enter the Project Arduino competition organised by Thales, a leading engineering and technology company.
Team Lockduino are now facing the University of Reading in the UK, and Caltech and the University of California, Irvine, both in the US, in the final showdown. They face a public online vote at http://www.thalesarduino.com to decide who will be the overall winner. Voting closes on Monday, February 23 at 5pm UK
US startup of the year Uber has submitted an application to Bristol City Council’s licensing department to operate a taxi-like service in the city.
Uber, founded in San Francisco in 2009 and now valued at $40bn, uses an app on a smart phone with an agreed scale of charges. It doesn’t use taxis but ‘ride shares’, although minicab drivers can be Uber drivers.
Using a smart phone allows drivers to see their fares’ exact location using the in-built GPS and users to see the nearest available cars to their location and for them to trace the journey of their cab on an interactive map as they wait for its arrival.
The company already operates in hundreds of cities across the globe, including London and Manchester in the UK, and is focussing on a huge expansion in Europe which it claims could create 50,000 new jobs.
But the company has caused controversy – and has even been banned in some countries.
Just behind Ikea is a tech software company StorMagic! Bristol data storage business StorMagic trebles sales and plans further expansion | Blog.
Great piece on the strength of the cluster – more details to come! Bristol and Bath named biggest UK tech business cluster outside London | Blog.
Simon Young came back to the region this month to head up the West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF)- ‘Future’s fantastic for our aerospace industry,’ he says
Great story from Rob Buckland that gives an overview of Bristol as a key ‘smart city’
Photonics equipment maker Gooch & Housego has received £1.2m in government funding to support its business in Torbay with 60 new jobs as part of a major expansion.
The company designs, manufacture and supplies fibre optic solutions used across the aerospace, defence, industrial, life science and scientific research sectors and is investing £18million in expanding in the region.
“This company is a great example of how the Regional Growth Fund is helping to build a stronger, more resilient economy and a fairer society,” said environment Minister Dan Rogerson.
“The Regional Growth Fund has enabled us to further strengthen our capabilities in Torbay and facilitate sustainable strategic growth over the next decade and beyond,” said Dr Andrew Robertson, Senior Vice President System Technology Group at Gooch and Housego. “With the ongoing support of the Torbay Development Agency, the fund has allowed us to recruit six new people already and we hope to add thirty more to the team in the coming three years with this number growing to 60 in the next ten. This will allow us to add many new skills to our R&D team, build our talent pool of Photonics Engineers and continue to expand of our production facilities, crucial to securing our long-term growth.”
So far £210 million of RGF money has been invested in businesses across the South West, helping to create 36,000 new jobs as companies have committed to investing an additional £700 million.
RGF Round Six, which will make at least £200 million available to companies across England, has just closed with 174 applications totalling more than £800 million. Thirty two bids worth £109 million were received from the South West. Successful bidders will be announced in the New Year.