Complementing the academic strand

Rupert Baines and Changemakers

By Jenny Ridge 4min read

Rupert Baines is a seasoned start-up entrepreneur and CEO of technology companies, taking three through to successful exit.

On 17 May he joined enthusiastic Changemakers as part of the ‘Dinner with a Leader’ series, in a lively roundtable discussion on start-ups, driving change and innovation, the challenges of forming and growing a start-up and the transition to scale up and growth stage. 

In a recent interview, I ask Rupert to share his thoughts on the importance of programmes like Changemakers to students, and the benefits to society more broadly. He says: 

“I really think Changemakers is an important and exciting initiative. University education in the UK is often very focussed and a programme like this, that is deliberately ‘open’, is incredibly valuable. It complements the academic strand by enabling students to develop other aspects of their personality and ambition: in a way, a return to the ‘universal’ aspect of ‘university’.

Dinners like this, with the learnings and exchange of ideas that go with it are important, and under-appreciated, parts of the “wider” aspects of education. Other universities, beyond Oxbridge, could learn from this.

Rupert Baines and Changemakers

We face great challenges as a society: I have been incredibly impressed by the breadth and ambition of many of the ideas that start here at Changemakers, and just how dramatically they could improve things for society.”

Rupert also sponsors the Ivan Baines Prize every year for the best project proposal, so I ask him why he does this, and what the benefits are of supporting such prizes? He replies:

“My son Ivan tragically died of suicide in 2022 following a period of severe mental illness and I wanted a way to remember him, and for his death to lead to some benefits or opportunity for others. Ivan was a natural changemaker in the widest sense, and he was born in Homerton hospital so there is poetic resonance to supporting Homerton College like this.”

As well as taking part in the dinner and sponsoring the prize, Rupert commits time to mentoring students on the Changemakers programme and is looking forward to being even more involved. Finally, he adds:

“I’d like to remark on Homerton’s admirable commitment to widening access. I was very impressed by the discussions I had on this, the outreach initiatives and the support of access programmes like the Foundation Year.”

Changemakers Mentoring Scheme  July-Dec 2023 APPLY BY 7 June!

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to work closely with an experienced mentor - Cambridge alumni, members of the Changemakers network - focusing on your career, aspirations, life. The last scheme was popular and oversubscribed. Note: Once we have received the number of applications we need, we will close the application form. So register now to secure your place! 

About Rupert Baines

As CEO of UltraSoC, he led a struggling academic spinout to success, defining a new category in the semiconductor industry, winning multiple business awards, and securing a number of very high-profile customers across the globe. Rupert orchestrated the sale of UltraSoc to Siemens in summer 2020 - a deal he concluded over Zoom, during lockdown.

Post exit, Rupert joined Codasip (“RISC-V with a twist”, developing customizable processors) as CMO and is currently on sabbatical.

Prior to UltraSoC, Rupert was VP of Strategic Marketing at Mindspeed, following that company’s acquisition of Picochip (now part of Intel 5G program), where he was CMO and pioneered the concept of small cells for wireless. His CV also includes roles at first:telecom (on track for IPO on LSE before successful exit, acquired by Atlantic Telecom for $880m), Pond Ventures (early stage deep-tech VC), Arthur D Little and Analog Devices where he played a key role in the development and mass-market adoption of broadband internet access. Rupert's first start-up was in Hull, based on his undergraduate thesis, aged 22.

Rupert is currently advisor to a number of exciting tech start-ups. He participates in the startup mentoring programs of Bath University, Cambridge University Judge Business School and IESE as well as the Homerton College Changemakers program.

He is on the board of UKESF (charity to encourage children to study engineering) and HiPEAC (EU program on computer architecture).

Rupert has lived and worked in the UK, USA and Europe and has extensive business experience in East Asia. He holds a BSc and postgraduate Diploma in Electronic Engineering from Hull University, UK and an MBA from IESE, Spain. He is a Chartered Engineer (C.Eng) and a Fellow of the IET (FIET) as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Manufacture & Commerce (FRSA). 

Rupert’s son Ivan tragically died of suicide in 2022 following a period of severe mental illness. Rupert is increasingly involved in charities and campaigning around those issues and supporting young people. 

In September Rupert’s sabbatical finished and he starts a new role in Cambridge.