Obituary: Dr Stephen Churcher, 46

Dr Stephen Churcher had a real passion for canoeing. Picture: Complimentary
Dr Stephen Churcher had a real passion for canoeing. Picture: Complimentary
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Tributes have been paid to Dr Stephen Churcher, entrepreneur and canoeist, who died, aged 46, in a road accident.

Born in Edinburgh on February 9, 1967, Stephen Churcher was educated at Lasswade Primary and Lasswade High, where he was Dux.

He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1989 with first class honours in electrical and electronic engineering and completed a doctorate sponsored by British Aerospace in 1992.

The same year, he married fellow scientist Linda, whom he met at the age of 25 at a course for PhD students in Sheffield. She is now a senior technical editor at marine publisher Witherby Publishing Group.

For the next seven years Dr Churcher worked with American technology firm Xilinx, mainly as a project leader in the field of integrated circuits, also known as microchips.

Soon, he was managing an engineering team in California as well as a design team in Edinburgh, and during this time he was awarded three US patents for integrated circuit design. In 1999, he co-founded a new company, part Edinburgh University spin-off and part Finnish subsidiary, called Elektrobit (UK) which worked on designs for applications such as Bluetooth and wifi.

In 2003, he bought the integrated circuit part of Elektrobit and took it into a new company which he founded with his university friend and associate Joel Sylvester, who plans to continue with their work. The company name, Dukosi, was adapted from Nepalese white-water river Dubh Kosi.

The name was inspired by Dr Churcher’s passion for canoeing, which he discovered at the age of 15 on a PGL adventure holiday in Wales. As a schoolboy he represented Scotland in the Scottish Canoe Association team at a canoe polo event. He was treasurer of the Forth Canoe Club and had twice paddled through the Grand Canyon.

Dr Churcher was a scientific innovator and entrepreneur whose work had implications for the future of many devices, from wind turbines to running shoes.

At the time of his death he was working on the prototypes of more efficient battery systems to help the wind power industry overcome the problem of spikes in supply by storing power, and which could be used in hybrid and electric cars and bicycles.

He was also involved in European consortium Runsafer, which is developing a running shoe with embedded electronics to collect information that could be used to help prevent injury and improve training.

Dr Churcher died after being hit by a car while cycling near the entrance to Roslin Glen Country Park on August 30.

He is survived by wife Linda and children Kay, 17, and Mark, 15.