RF Engines Ltd (RFEL) Continued Expansion Due to Growing Demand for Specialist Designs

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Specialisation enables British digital signal processing company to continue to grow and take on new staff. Its expertise is sought by leading companies from around the world.

RF Engines Limited (RFEL), who specialise in high performance signal processing design work, has reported buoyant growth, and a number of significant new contract awards. Also, and contrary to the general market outlook, RFEL have reported a significant increase in turnover and profits, and are continuing to expand, taking on more specialist systems and VHDL engineers in order to keep pace with demand.

John Summers, RFEL's CEO, said, "We have built up a very strong team of people from very different backgrounds; some from defence electronics - radar and electronic warfare; others from the satcoms and wireless world; as well as people with an instrumentation background. This means that we can, pretty quickly, put together small teams who have a good mix of skills in modelling, algorithm development, digital implementation, RF and software - plus they have the hardware and systems knowledge to quickly understand what the customer is trying to do."

RFEL's turnover has almost doubled in the last year and profits increased almost tenfold, whilst taking on several more people and undertaking research & development on channelisation designs, a reconfigurable receiver design, as well as a new product for a specialised monitoring requirement.

"I'd like to be able to say more about the product developments that we are doing, but that's maybe a little premature and we are currently restricted in what we can say," added John Summers. "However, we are excited by the prospects, and this all fits in very well with our ongoing strategy of developing products to meet market need, rather than being simply technology driven and just, if that's the right word, offering excellent technology."

Within the last year, an additional eight designers have joined the company, mostly PhD's. "The new guys have brought in knowledge from working in companies including ARM, Doulos, Toshiba, BAE SYSTEMS, DSTL, Imagination, Nujira and have blended in really well with other guys from Filtronic, BAE and so on," explained Summers. "We've a tremendous wealth of experience to draw upon, that enables us to create solutions that really meet our customers' needs."

When questioned on the reasons for RFEL's success, Summers said, "We have developed a business where our clients can be confident about outsourcing a complex design to us, can pass a lot of the risk on to us, and can be pretty confident that they'll get what they want on time without all the hassle and worry. Also, at the high-end of DSP where we operate, the EDA tools run out of steam, and there are also tricky decisions over the architecture - where best to partition the processing, what should be on the FPGA, what should be on the processor, should we be going to a multi-core processor? These are complex, interrelated issues and where we can add value because we deal with these problems every day and know how best to solve them - balancing all the complex variables is a highly skilled task. Off-the-shelf solutions just cannot deliver the speed and performance of our hand optimised, bespoke solutions.

"In addition, we do often share the risk by having licensing deals for the design, and so our customer gets the job done at a lower up-front cost, and then we both benefit when the product does go to market. It's proved to be a very good business model."

By early next year, RFEL will be employing 25 people, with all but one having relocated to the Isle of Wight. When asked how much this was a factor influencing recruitment, Summers said, "I would say that we've seen over the last couple of years a distinct emphasis of people really looking at a lifestyle choice. Guys, who were fed up with the drudge of long commutes and maybe also trying to bring their kids up in a difficult environment, have looked at the Island and seen a place where things are different - not quite a parallel universe, but certainly a great place to live and enjoy life. So being on the Isle of Wight is actually a big attraction."

RF Engines Ltd:
RF Engines Limited (RFEL) is a UK-based electronic systems designer, providing high specification signal processing solutions for FPGAs, as well as receiver and complete product solutions for the homeland security, defence, communications and instrumentation markets. Applications include communications base stations, satellite communications systems, test and measurement instrumentation, and bespoke wideband receivers/transceivers.


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John Summers
RF Engines
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Vortex PR
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