Started by Patrick Haspel in 2007 it was, initially, purely a European exercise but now encompasses both the US and Asia.
“The Academic Network is not a standard university programme,” Haspel explains, “but rather a marriage between industry and academia that is unique in the semiconductor ecosystem. It’s about developing long-term relationships with academia embracing both professors and students.
“It is an essential part of our commitment to help develop the next generation of engineers as we reach out to key universities to ensure better understanding of electronic design automation.”
The network came out of Haspel’s own experiences as an academic at Universität Mannheim, when he was asked to create a digital design lecture series.
“While I wanted to pull together a single flow that proved impossible, no one from the EDA space wanted to talk or share their tools with a university at the time,” he recalls.
As a result, he created and set up his own network at the university and established the first ASIC competence centre.
“It wasn’t until 2002 that I met with Cadence and we got access to their tools,” he remembers.
Patrick went on to join Cadence in 2005 and in 2007 formally introduced the Cadence Academic Network which was intended to help universities get access to EDA tools and to better exchange ideas.
“From my experience, there was a need for a more sophisticated design flow, or EDA environment, at university and I thought academia would really benefit from a closer relationship with the EDA vendors.
“The Network originally started as a pilot programme in central Europe and was then rolled out across EMEA,” Haspel explains. “Then around 3 years ago, was introduced it into the other regions.”
The Academic Network encourages the correct use of EDA software by universities, as well as connecting professors and academics.
“It also lets Cadence tap into the research competencies and interests of the universities.
“Initially, academics didn’t realise the value of events such as CDNLive where they could exchange ideas and network. It wasn’t perceived as a scientific event. Once they began to engage it became easier and we’ve seen a massive increase in research submissions.
According to Haspel, “There are only a limited number of universities who are using EDA to provide tape-outs, many simply use Cadence technology as part of their courses.”
Crucially, students benefit as they get to spend more time on their research than wasting time looking for EDA tools.
“The Network has also helped to improve the perception of the Cadence brand. We’re presenting at conferences, and sponsoring academic events. It’s a remarkably stable partnership between industry and academia in which we share and exchange knowledge, tools, and students,” enthuses Haspel.
Over the years Cadence has developed a strong relationship with academia, even though there is no cash contribution from Cadence.
“It has made a real difference for the company,” according to Haspel.
“Education in advanced verification is a new field, few academics actually teach it. We can help improve teaching material which, in turn, will help us to sell our technology.”
Part of Cadence’s mission is to also help commercialise academic research.
“The challenge is finding ways to build pathways to commercial use.”
With a growing number of spinouts from universities the Network can play an important role in providing a bridge between academia and the commercial world.
“Looking to the future we want to extend the Network further,” Haspel says, “but it will take time.”
With the advent of new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence there will certainly be a need for closer research collaboration, “and that will drive a need for much greater levels of engagement.”