Alasdair Rawsthorne, University of Manchester/Transitive

ALASDAIR RAWSTHORNE is a long-standing lecturer in computer science at the University of Manchester and chief technology officer of Transitive, the company he set up as a spin-out to commercialise and market the innovations developed at the university and founded around the members of his research group. Transitive’s unique products, called the QuickTransit family, are based on these innovations, which focus on the investigation of better ways of migrating software applications between different CPU types. One version of QuickTransit, branded by Apple Computer as Rosetta, is built into all of its current Macintosh computers, allowing the Intel-based laptops, desktops and servers introduced in January 2006 to run essentially all applications written for previous generations of PowerPC-based Macintoshes.

By the end of 2007 another version of QuickTransit — known as IBM System p AVE — will be shipped with every IBM System p enterprise server to allow Linux software compiled for Intel processors to run without modification on the Power-based IBM servers.  Transitive’s engineering team in Manchester is now the world’s leading centre of expertise in dynamic binary translation and related systems. It has grown to 85 people, all located in Manchester, with most customer projects being managed by one of the initial group. There is also an office in California.

Rawsthorne worked with a number of venture capital partnerships, and by this year more than £20m ($40m) had been raised in Europe and Silicon Valley. The University of Manchester acquired a shareholding in Transitive in return for the intellectual property injected into the company. Its innovation is recognised in 14 granted patents and numerous industry awards.

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