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Nakul Haridas

Dr Nakul Haridas's masters and PhD research on developing smart antennas led to the creation of a high tech spinout company.

Name

Nakul Haridas

Degree 

MSc System Level Integration, PhD Engineering and Electronics

Year of graduation 2005, 2014

Your time at the University  

Nakul Haridas at graduation

In the words of Ed Markey, "Education is not only a ladder of opportunity, but it is also an investment in our future". The University of Edinburgh was definitely the most transformative experience of my life. I had an option for four different universities to do my masters. I however chose to do a Masters in System Level Integration at Edinburgh University, which was the most stimulating degree; providing a broad range of subjects that one could specialise in.

For my MSc project I took on a challenging topic to develop a micro antenna. I saw the opportunity to broaden the scope by adding micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) devices that would allow us to steer the beam very much like a radar. This opportunity to work on a leading edge technology and being taught by industry veterans really made a huge impact on my career leading to a PhD, then a postdoc and later founding Sofant Technologies Ltd, a high tech spinout company, based on my MSc and PhD research.

The most notable experience during the course of my studies was my involvement in organising and chairing international conferences in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories and the European Space Agency (ESA). This experience of meeting and networking with the brightest of both academic and industrial minds opened up new frontiers in research and collaboration, which I could not have found at any other university.

Apace with my research I had the opportunity to work for BSkyB and even volunteer for the Space School, organised at the University, teaching schoolchildren to build robots and rockets, which I must say was the most exhilarating event I had been part of. My time at Edinburgh University was the most rewarding in terms of opportunities to learn new concepts, new skills and a build a solid foundation.

Your experiences since leaving the University

I was extremely fortunate to work with Professor Tughrul Arslan who supported me right through my journey. He helped me to identify the right opportunities, where I could apply my novel ideas that led to international patents very early in my PhD research. In 2004, when I proposed this research as part of my MSc thesis, 3G networks were still being rolled out in the UK. Very soon by the year 2022, we shall see 5G networks where my research and inventions in smart antennas will become a reality.

In 2011 we started Sofant Technologies Ltd with the help of Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, and were able to secure funding from both the University and Scottish Enterprise to commercialise my work of providing miniaturised beam steering antennas or smart antennas in mobile phones. The idea was highly acclaimed, and we won many start-up competitions in 2011 such as the Converge Challenge, the SETsquared Innovation Award and key funding such as the Proof of Concept and Smart Award funded by Scottish Enterprise. As the company grew more funding opportunities came in the form of FP7, Horizon 2020, ESA and Innovate UK grants, which were essential to develop high tech research into a real product.

It was my dream back in 2004 to invent a device that would enable seamless and ubiquitous connectivity for all, and today I see that dream taking shape and becoming the reality of tomorrow.

​​​​​​​It was my dream back in 2004 to invent a device that would enable seamless and ubiquitous connectivity for all, and today I see that dream taking shape and becoming the reality of tomorrow.

Dr Nakul HaridasSofant Technologies Ltd

Alumni wisdom

Winston Churchill is attributed as saying, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty". These words truly resonate with the path I chose when I decided to do my masters at the University of Edinburgh. I chose to do a challenging degree and the most challenging MSc project that opened more doors for me. My strongest advice to any student is to embrace the challenges, work hard and enjoy every moment of it. You never know that the smallest of these opportunities may lead you to the biggest adventure and the brightest of all futures.

Find Nakul on Platform One

Platform One is a meeting place, a community place and a discussion place. It is where University of Edinburgh students, alumni, staff and volunteers can gather, mingle, inspire, support, encourage and share.

Platform One

Related links

Sofant Technologies Ltd (external link)

PhD Horizons Careers Conference - 17 June 2019

Edinburgh Innovations

Electronics and Electrical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh