Students Staff

30 March 2009

Spin-out secures debugging funds

Colchester Campus

Dr Andrew Hopkins, CEO Dr Karl Heeks and Professor Klaus McDonald-Maier at UltraSoC’s head office in Cambridge

UltraSoC Technologies has raised £400,000 of equity investment from the South East Seed Fund, managed by Finance South East, and the Iceni Seedcorn Fund.

The company was founded in 2005 as a spin-out from the Universities of Kent and Essex, and is based on research carried out by Professor Klaus McDonald-Maier and Dr Andrew Hopkins and their team. Research and development continues at Essex’s Colchester Campus.

The funds will be used to develop and market UltraDebug™, a highly flexible, multi-processor, System-on-Chip (SOC) debug support platform. UltraDebug™ will provide superior, application-level, debugging facilities, enabling the embedded systems industry to create more advanced and reliable products in markets such as automotive and consumer devices.

The potential impact of such advanced debug facilities is considerable as, typically, more than half the cost of product development is spent on debugging and verification of embedded systems. The impact of product failure on the economy is estimated to be more than $60 billion a year in the US alone.

UltraSoC CEO Dr Karl Heeks said: ‘We are delighted to have both the Iceni Seedcorn Fund and Finance South East involved in this funding round. We are particularly gratified that the quality and promise of our technology and strength of our team has enabled us to secure this funding in such a challenging investment environment.’

The South East Seed Fund supports the development of young businesses on a commercial investment return basis and seeks to invest only in opportunities that it believes have the highest potential for success. Sally Goodsell, CEO of Finance South East commented: ‘This builds on our long-term relationship with UltraSoC and proves the concept of our South East Funding escalator. We have been supporting the company right from its early proof of concept activities through our PoCKeT and SEPOC Funds. All of us at Finance South East are delighted that the South East Seed Fund is helping to support the next stage of their development.’

The Iceni Seedcorn Fund was established to assist the commercialisation of innovation from within its six partner institutions which include the University of Essex. Dr John Read, the Chairman of the Iceni Investment Advisory Board, who has held many senior posts in the semiconductor industry, will be joining the board of UltraSoC as Chairman. Dr Read added: ‘We are delighted to be in a position to support UltraSoC developing its much-needed, innovative technology in the all pervasive sectors of embedded and computer systems.’

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, Professor Colin Riordan, remarked: ‘World-class research developed at the University is forming the cornerstone of this important commercialisation. We will be supporting UltraSoC as it takes this research through to useful products in the market-place.’


Notes to editors

About Finance South East: Finance South East is a not-for-profit organisation working with partners from both the private and public sectors to deliver a unique funding service to high growth companies operating across the South East. The organisation helps ambitious companies to grow through direct investment and associated support. Finance South East’s specialist range of products and services include advice on funding strategy, introductions to funding sources, fund management, mentoring and investor networks. Finance South East has already helped companies in the region raise in excess of £20million.
For further information please visit

About Iceni Seedcorn Fund: The Iceni Seedcorn Fund was established under the University Challenge Fund scheme to help commercialise innovation and technological development derived within the partner institutes; the University of East Anglia, the University of Essex, the John Innes Centre, the Sainsbury Laboratory, the Institute of Food Research, and Plant Bioscience Limited. The Fund was established in 2002 and to date has invested in ten spin-out companies and licensing opportunities.
For further information please visit

About UltraSoC Technologies: UltraSoC Technologies is an independent provider of SoC infrastructure to enable rapid development of embedded systems based on advanced SoC devices. Its head office is in Cambridge and it has research and development labs in Colchester.
For further information please visit or contact Dr Karl Heeks on 01223 422133.

About the University of Essex: The University of Essex is ranked in the top ten universities in the UK for the quality of its research. Its School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, which attracts students from some 40 different countries, has particular research strengths in computer networking and telecommunications, system on chip technology, intelligent environments and robotics. The research which underpinned the establishment of UltraSoC Technologies was initially funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
For further information please visit or contact Jenny Grinter in the Communications Office on 01206 872400.

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