The Start of the Cambridge Technology Explosion
Plextek was established in 1989 to serve the needs of the booming mobile telecommunications industry by providing electronic and communications design services. In the early years the company developed many devices for 2G cellular, DECT and other standards-based systems, and a range of bespoke last-mile communications solutions for customers such as Ionica and Radiant Networks.
Our work on volume products soon led us to establish relationships with supply chain companies and factories in the Far East, which enabled us to offer turnkey design and supply services. Back in the nineties, we were regularly helping clients to offshore the manufacture of the products that we had developed. Interestingly, the cost-benefit ratio of overseas manufacture has changed over time, and we are now helping some of our clients to re-shore their manufacture to the UK.
Our wireless expertise subsequently led to design wins outside the mobile telecommunications sector, for example in Formula 1 telemetry, hospital patient monitoring systems and stolen vehicle detection products and networks. From the outset, the combination of our independence and technical skills allowed us to offer either standards-based or bespoke communications solutions, as demanded by the requirements of the application.
In the noughties, Plextek started to invest income from consultancy services into internal product ideas, developing substantial lines of intellectual property in three main areas: ground surveillance radar, vehicle telematics and street lamp monitoring and control systems. Over a number of years the company developed these ideas into marketable products and systems, creating new business areas each with their own revenue streams, while the original business continued to trade as ‘Plextek Consulting’.
In late 2015, Plextek Ltd demerged into a number of separate legal entities, formally spinning out three new product companies: Blighter Surveillance Systems Ltd, Redtail Telematics Ltd and Telensa Ltd. Blighter Surveillance Systems offers a range of lightweight, high-performance surveillance radars into many market sectors. Redtail Telematics provides turnkey vehicle telematics services to the fleet management and automotive insurance markets. Telensa is the leading provider of street lamp monitoring and control systems.
At the time of the demerger, the original consulting business split into two parts. The millimetre-wave IC design business was spun out as Plextek RFI, which remains a consultancy service, principally serving the semiconductor industry. The remainder of the consultancy business was moved to this legal entity – Plextek Services Ltd – but continues to trade as Plextek. Since the demerger, the company has refocussed both its services and markets and now provides a range of bespoke technology and innovation services principally into the defence, healthcare, security, IOT and sensor markets.
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