Dr Drew Nelson OBE, DSc, FREng, FLSW
Dr Nelson was educated at the University of Sheffield, where he obtained an Honours Degree (1st Class) in Electronic Engineering and subsequently a PhD in Semiconductor Technology.
From 1981 to 1988 he worked at British Telecom Research Labs, leading a group which pioneered the technology of semiconductor lasers for optical fibre communications, now the fundamental backbone of the entire Internet. In 1988 Dr Nelson co-founded IQE, raising £2m start-up capital from Shell Ventures, and has held the role of Chief Executive Officer since 1996, when he led a management buy-out from Shell.
In 1999, he led the listing of IQE on the London Stock Exchange in 2000, funding a major expansion programme at both UK and US sites of IQE plc. Currently IQE is the largest global supplier of advanced semiconductor wafers with annual revenues of over US$ 200 million, and with 11 operations spread across the UK, US, Taiwan and Singapore . IQE products can be found in over 90% of all smartphones and in a myriad of other high technology products and systems for consumer, industrial, military and aerospace applications. IQE became Wales’ first Unicorn (tech company with a valuation of over $1 billion) in July 2017.
Dr Nelson has been actively involved in many Government and Industry Advisory Groups, has published over 130 papers and articles, made over 200 conference presentations and is the author of several patents. From 2000-2005, Dr Nelson served as Board Member of WDA, and was the Founder Chairman of the Welsh Electronics Forum, now EsTNET.
In July 2000, Dr. Nelson was awarded The Silver Medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering for his contribution to British Engineering and was awarded the OBE for services to the Electronics Industry in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, 2001. In 2002 he was awarded an Honorary D.Sc from the University of Sheffield and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2004. He received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the UK Semiconductor Industry in 2007, and UK Electronics Industry in 2013. Dr Nelson was also elected President of the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) in 2011, and was elected as a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales in 2012. He has served as the UK representative on the European Commission’s High Level Group (HLG) for Key Enabling Technologies since 2012, and the EU Electronics Leadership Group since 2014. More recently, he has been a key member of Wales’ REAP (Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Plan) team, resulting in the BeTheSpark digital platform launch in June 2017. In July 2017, Dr Nelson was made an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University.
Over the last 5 years, Dr Nelson has been instrumental in conceiving and building the World’s first Compound Semiconductor Cluster in South Wales, which has attracted an investment pipeline of over £300 million, and resulted in supply chain and technology chain development and establishment involving academia, Government and Industry.
In addition to his CEO role at IQE plc, he is a founder and (until 2016) was non-exec Chairman of Photonstar plc, another London Stock Market listed company, and is an angel investor and director of several technology based companies in the UK and the US.