As discussed at length so far in this series, Cambridge is known worldwide for its prestigious university and thriving technology cluster, is a symbol of innovation and intellectual prowess. At the heart of this ecosystem, Professor Florin Udrea stands as a shining example of academic excellence, entrepreneurial spirit and a true innovator with over 200 patents. With a distinguished career in Semiconductor Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Florin Udrea has not only contributed ground-breaking research but has also founded multiple successful spin-out companies. Marks & Clerk has a been longstanding collaborator with Florin Udrea and all of his start-up companies for over two decades. This article explores the remarkable journey of Florin Udrea, highlighting his entrepreneurial ventures and the profound impact he has had in fostering a culture of innovation in the semiconductor industry.
Cambridge Semiconductor (CamSemi)
Florin Udrea's entrepreneurial journey began with Cambridge Semiconductor (CamSemi) in 2000, marking the emergence of groundbreaking silicon power integrated circuit technology. Co-founded with Professor Gehan Amaratunga and catalysed by seed investment from the University of Cambridge, CamSemi's ‘PowerBrane’ technology introduced novel device structure that brought substantial improvements in breakdown voltage and switching performance. Recognised as the "University Spin-out of the Year" in 2009, CamSemi would find a new home with Power Integrations, Inc in 2015 in a sale worth $23mil.
Cambridge CMOS Sensors (CCS)
Next on Florin Udrea's innovation journey was co-founding Cambridge CMOS Sensors (CCS) in 2008 with Professors Julian Gardner and Bill Milne. Based on extensive research conducted at the universities of Warwick and Cambridge since the 1990s, CCS specialized in pioneering MEMs high-temperature micro-hotplate technology for gas-sensing applications. The low-cost, high-volume sensor-on-chip solutions brought a new wave of innovations to the industry, leading to its acquisition by ams in 2016.
Cambridge Microelectronics (Camutronics)
The 2011 inception of Cambridge Microelectronics (Camutronics) marked another milestone in Florin Udrea's illustrious career. Co-founded with his Ph.D. student, Dr. Tanya Trajkovic, the company is dedicated to the design and IP creation of power management technologies.
Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD)
Navigating through the fast-paced digital age, Florin Udrea and Giorgia Longobardi co-founded Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD) in 2016 to meet the increasing demands of high-power, high-switching speed applications such as electric vehicle charging units and 5G communications. The CGD’s ICeGaNTM transistor, using gallium nitride (GaN) instead of silicon, promises more than 99% energy efficiency while remaining compatible with existing MOSFET components. The CGD team anticipates their product will accelerate the shift towards energy-efficient devices, an essential factor in achieving net-zero emissions.
Florin Udrea's most recent start-up, Flusso, co-founded with his former PhD student, Andrea De Luca, is set to redefine the landscape of flow sensing devices. Their groundbreaking products, claimed to be the world's smallest flow sensors, are poised to revolutionize sectors such as medical devices and automation due to their versatility and cost-effectiveness. In 2022, Flusso was acquired for £28 million, further solidifying its position. As Flusso expands its research and development teams in Cambridge, it adds to the city's unique blend of talent, entrepreneurship and creativity that has propelled its success.
Testament to Florin Udrea's leadership and innovative vision was his 2018 receipt of the Royal Society Mullard Award, acknowledging his significant contributions to research and commercialization in sensor technologies. This recognition further solidified his standing in the scientific community as a leader in technological innovation. In recognition of his substantial contributions to the power semiconductor field, Florin Udrea was inducted into the Hall of Fame at ISPSD 2023, the eminent conference for power devices. Making history, he became the first person to receive both the "Best Paper" and "Best Poster" awards - an extraordinary accomplishment in the conference's 35-year history.
Florin Udrea's remarkable career serves as an exemplar of the innovative spirit that pervades the city of Cambridge. His contributions to the semiconductor industry and his role in fostering a culture of innovation have indelibly shaped the technological landscape of the city and beyond. His legacy serves as a beacon of inspiration for future visionaries, reinforcing Cambridge's status as a global epicenter of technological progress and entrepreneurship.