United Kingdom
Team Leader:
David Ruiz Alonso
Team Members:
Andrew Koehl
Billy Boyle
Ashley Wilks
Product Image

Owlstone's UltraFaims spectrometer chip

Team Video


United Kingdom

“The Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE and Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE are helping crystalize our efforts to use our sensor technology for medical diagnosis. The competitions also create a great framework for collaboration and forging the right partnerships.”

Team Story

Andrew Koehl, David Ruiz-Alonso and Billy Boyle were researchers in Cambridge University’s Engineering Department when they teamed up to develop and commercialize the idea of a novel sensor technology Koehl was developing for his PhD. In 2004, after securing initial funding, their PhDs were put on 'hold' and they started Owlstone. They initially worked on prototyping the core technology, which offers an attractive combination of high performance, reprogrammability, small size and low cost. In late 2004, the first working sensor demonstrated basic functionality and Owlstone started expanding, and Ashley Wilks joined as Chief Systems Officer. As the technology was maturing Owlstone also expanded its management team to drive commercialization. In 2006, Bret Bader, CEO, and Mark Brennan, EVP of Homeland Defense, joined the team. Both were former business heads for Smiths Detection, world leader in chemical sensors for homeland defense and military markets, which is the initial target for Owlstone’s technology.

Since then Owlstone has commercialized products in three different markets: Industrial Process Control, Scientific Instrumentation, and Defense; and has over 100 customers in USA, Europe and Asia. It employs 45 people and is headquartered in Norwalk, CT, with R&D and manufacturing facilities in Cambridge, U.K. Owlstone started making inroads in the medical space in 2008 through a collaboration with Dr. James Covington at the University of Warwick, who has used Owlstone’s technology in medical diagnosis feasibility studies.

Team Leader Bio

David Ruiz Alonso, Co-Founder

David put his PhD in superconductor modeling at Cambridge University on hold to co-found Owlstone, where he shares responsibility for day-to-day operations. He grew up in Murcia in Spain, and earned his Bachelors and Master's degree in engineering at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, where he took a double major in electronics and communications. He then spent a year as a visiting graduate student at University of California, Berkeley, where he completed his thesis for the Msc.