Professor Esther Rodriguez-Villegas, FREng is an academic and an entrepreneur. She graduated with an MSci from the Department of Physics at the University of Seville (Spain) in 1996, getting the University’s San Alberto Magno Award, which is given to the top student of the class. A year later she was given the only national scholarship to do a PhD in Microelectronics in Spain’s National Microelectronics Centre. One week after finishing her PhD she was appointed lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial College London. She was offered the job because of her scientific contributions to micro/nano power analogue circuit design and, more specifically, to design with the FGMOS transistor: she had managed to solve a problem that others had struggled with for decades, and created novel integrated circuits that were able to beat the state-of-the-art in terms of power by orders of magnitude. Shortly after joining Imperial she decided to expand her work to healthcare and following several years of establishing solid multidisciplinary scientific foundations, she founded the Wearable Technologies Lab which specialises on creating ultra-low power, user friendly, medical devices to reduce the burden of chronic conditions. Throughout the years she was promoted to Senior Lecturer, Reader and finally Professor (Chair of Low Power Electronics) in 2015.
Esther is also a founder, co-CEO/CSO, of two active life-sciences companies, Acurable and TainiTec. Acurable focuses on creating and commercialising disruptive wearable medical devices to facilitate and improve the diagnosis and management of chronical cardiovascular conditions and, among other things, has developed the first wearable medical device to have been granted the CE-mark for fully automatic diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). TainiTec develops and commercialises the, currently, smallest high performance brain monitoring devices existing in the market.
Apart from a long list of academic publications, Esther’s work has been recognized with a multitude of awards, including (but not limited to) the Complutense Top Scientist/Engineer award, which is the national award in Spain to recognise the top scientist under 36; a global IET Innovation Award in Information Technologies in 2009; Imperial College Provost Award for Excellence in Animal Research in 2018; a Silver Medal of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2020; a Lifetime Award from the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK (recognising the career of the top Spanish researcher in the UK) in 2021; the Imperial College President’s award for excellence in entrepreneurship in 2021; and an XPRIZE award in 2014 (XPRIZEs are the most prestigious global technology competitions). Esther has led many, some multi-million, multidisciplinary healthcare projects (most of them as single investigator), funded by a variety of industrial and government funding bodies. She has also been the winner of three European Research Council grants (these are considered to be the most competitive grants in the world since they aim to recognise only international research leaders). Esther has been in the technical committee of more than 20 international scientific conferences (all positions obtained through invitation); and since 2017 she is in the technical committee of the flagship industry conference on integrated circuit design in Silicon Valley (ISSCC). In 2020 she was also globally elected to be a Member-at-Large of the AdCom (Committee making all executive decisions) of the IEEE Solid State Circuits Society. She was the only European person to be chosen. During the COVID crisis, amongst other things, Esther served as advisor to UK Test and Trace, both on potential solutions to address technical challenges in its contact tracing tools and the feasibility of implementing new solutions. In the past she has also provided evidence for the Science and Technology Committee in the UK House of Lords, and served as an adviser for members of the cabinet of the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. Her work is also recognized by the very large number of invitations that she gets every year to give very high profile talks, targeting multidisciplinary and, in some cases, multitudinary audiences, ranging from academics, to clinicians, politicians, the general public, or business leaders. As an example of those, in 2015 she was invited to talk to 8,000 people at the Launch Festival in San Francisco. Her work has also been featured in the media, including prime time TV over 400 times. Latest examples include AcuPebble being featured in BBC News, BBC Horizon and Bloomberg’s TV Beyond Innovation. Her professional trajectory has also been covered in the press many times. Some notable examples in the last year include her profile appearing in the Sunday edition of the top (non-sports) newspaper in Spain, el Pais and also in Expansion (top business newspaper in Spain). She has also been featured in books and podcasts. Esther has got 15 years of experience in ethics, regulatory processes and IP protection. She also has almost two decades experience in identifying talent, and leading technical teams; and has trained over 700 engineers. In addition to that, she has successfully taken ten products from the conception in the research lab to market and mass production, (www.tainitec.com).
Esther serves as mentor of women at different levels of their career trajectory, both in industry and in Academia.
Keynote Talk: Academia, diversity and entrepreneurship: A tale of coexistence
Tuesday 27th June, 16:15 – 17:15