28 July 2020

EEE alumnus awarded prestigious Royal Academy Fellowship

Ben White, former EEE student and now CEO of spin out company Phlux, has been awarded one of the prestigious Enterprise Fellowships from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Headshot of Ben White CEO of spin out company Phlux

Phlux is a spin-out company from the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering (EEE) at The University of Sheffield created to commercialise a breakthrough in the application of LIDAR - the use of infrared detector technology. 

Co-founded by Professor Chee Hing Tan and Professor Jo Shien Ng, the launch of Phlux reflects eight years of development at the University. 

Ben White started his career with EEE as an undergraduate student and continued onto a PhD in the Department.  After working closely with Professors Tan and Ng as a Research Associate on the project, Ben has been appointed CEO for the spin out company when it launches in the summer of 2020.

On being awarded the Enterprise Fellowship Ben says "The Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowships are very prestigious so I was extremely excited when I received the offer. The training from the Fellowship will be invaluable for helping me develop the skills that I now need to transition from a researcher to the CEO of Phlux."

"Another major benefit is access to the Royal Academy of Engineering’s network, giving me the opportunity to draw experience from industry experts and other entrepreneurs on the same journey."

"Phlux will be launched this summer and I will transition from my current position of Research Associate in EEE to become the CEO of Phlux. We have a small but high performing team and are working to develop prototypes that will be integrated into real systems for technology validation."

The team behind Phlux have developed a detector that provides approximately 5 times higher sensitivity than current detector products available on the market.

The target markets for this technology are autonomous vehicles and advanced driver systems which use infrared sensors to navigate. Phlux’s ultra sensitive detectors will enable autonomous vehicles to see much further than current technology allows therefore making them safer which could pave the way for general use.

Professor Tan says "Phlux will provide the pathways to transform excellent research from the University to solutions for a wide range of optical sensing applications. We see the range measurement using time of flight of optical pulses, in a LIDAR system, as an important application that will see a step change when our technology is adopted."

Their detection technology could also improve surveying and mapping tools used to survey flood basins, forestry biomass, and coastal erosion.

Professor Tan continues "Ben has been fundamental in securing seed funding, shaping the business model and will now lead Phlux as a CEO. During our pre-commercialisation stages Ben has developed and demonstrated a wide range of entrepreneur skills and I am very excited to work with Ben to develop the next phase of our common vision to bring world leading research in Sheffield to daily applications."

For more information on Phlux please contact Ben on ben.white@sheffield.ac.uk.

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