We aim to foster a culture of entrepreneurship, innovation and success among engineers in the UK, creating economic growth and societal impact. At the heart of how we do this are the Hub Members, the promising entrepreneurs who we support through our programmes, and our Hub Mentors, the business leaders who volunteer their expertise and time to help the Hub Members succeed.
From manufacturing to medtech, our Hub Membership is made up of some of the UK’s most innovative entrepreneurs. But don’t just take our word for it: read more about our Hub Members to see how they are, without exaggeration, changing the world.
Product development is a complex phase in the product life cycle, which spans from idea to pre-manufacturing. It is characterised by challenges such as ambiguity, uncertainty and continuous change as the product evolves from a concept to a fully manufacturable product.
A single development project often costs billions of pounds, requires multiple years and involves tens of thousands of employees and hundreds of thousands of activities.
Due to their scale and sophistication, 45% of these projects miss their time target, 63% miss their cost targets, and for every $1 billion spent about $120 million is lost due to inefficiencies.
AEMS has used cutting-edge research in artificial intelligence and project management to create a software solution that enables firms to plan and manage their projects more efficiently. The AI-powered solution enables companies to predict the performance of their projects, identify optimal execution plans and helps them to make more informed and tested decisions.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, AEMS intends to build its product from a basic prototype to a full commercial version, adding extra functionalities in the process. Alongside this, AEMS will execute a series of customer testing activities. The online project management software market is currently valued at £3 billion [PS1] and expected to double over the next five years. These tests will evaluate the value that its product adds to the customer, the user-friendliness of the software, and whether customers are willing to purchase it.
2014 - 2017: Developed the technology at the University of Cambridge.
2018 - 2019: Carried out a proof-of-principle study at Jaguar Land Rover.
2020 - Awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship.
2020 - Received pre-seed investment from Cambridge Enterprise.
2020 - Implemented additional features.
2020 - Set up second industrial collaboration for further customer testing.
“The Enterprise Fellowship programme has been enormously supportive through providing funding and, more importantly, a comprehensive training programme delivered by world-class experts covering the various aspects of entrepreneurship.”
An increasing number of organisations and businesses have declared ambitious plans to become carbon neutral, but lack the ability to develop a tangible action plan. This is due to lack of information, and not having an easy way to evaluate various emission-reduction measures efficiently and at scale.
Absolar develops computer technologies that use remote sensing and artificial intelligence to capture building characteristics and evaluate their potential to improve energy efficiency and use renewable energy systems.
Its software, Carbon Action Planning Tool (CAPT), is a business-facing application that helps organisations assess individual buildings and identify measures that can be undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The software helps users review the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of each project, supporting their decision-making process, and developing long-term action plans.
Absolar’s web-based application, Intelligent Energy Resource Assessment (INTERA), provides users with accurate and independent assessment results of the feasibility of installing solar energy panels on their buildings. It is integrated with latest market information and financial modelling and helps organisations, businesses and households install renewable energy systems to reduce energy costs, decrease their carbon footprint and gain carbon credits.
As of October 2020, over 300 local authorities in the UK have declared a climate emergency. The UK government’s intention to reach net zero is costed at £1 trillion by 2050 (BEIS, 2019) and requires 54 GW of solar capacity to be installed by 2035, equivalent to around £2.2 billion of investment per year. With this in mind, Absolar aims to achieve nationwide coverage and bring its software to all cities in the UK, and reach the overseas market by 2022. Absolar is also hoping to work with partners from the energy industry and local authorities to extend the application of its technologies.
Absolar’s software has been purchased by Portsmouth and Southampton city councils. It has received a European Regional Development Fund R&D grant, through the EMphasis3 CO2 Reduction Project run by the University of Portsmouth, University of Winchester and Greentech South.
January 2020 – Awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship.
June 2020 – Received revenue from software application and established a customer-funded business model.
November 2020 – launch of software application for southeast England (planning).
“With the valuable support from the Enterprise Fellowship, Absolar has been able to comprehensively examine a series of potential business models and identify the most suitable business structure and route to market.”
There is currently a dire need in the UK construction industry for insulation materials that are affordable, high-performance and fire-safe. This was highlighted by the 2017 Grenfell tower tragedy, which led to the ban of the most common plastic-based insulation materials in buildings above five storeys. All existing fire-safe alternatives are either expensive or low-performing, and with more than 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions resulting from gas-heating homes and offices, there has never been a greater need for novel solutions in this £850 million-a-year market.
Thermulon has developed a novel chemical process to produce silica aerogel powders. Silica aerogels are inherently non-flammable and one of the most insulating materials, but have historically been kept out of the construction industry due to high cost. This cost is largely due to their processing method, and Thermulon’s unique pathway significantly reduces price when produced at scale. Its vision is to use this to make buildings safer and more energy efficient.
Thermulon’s technology presents vast potential benefits commercially, environmentally and socially. Uninsulated UK solid wall homes alone lose 1.6 Terawatt-hours of energy per year (equivalent to the annual usage of 440,000 households). By addressing this market with its retrofit-applicable products, Thermulon can help the UK reach its 2050 carbon neutral goals. Fuel poverty remains an issue in 10% of UK households, and Thermulon’s solution can improve heating efficiency while consuming minimal floorspace, presenting an ideal solution for ECO3 government-funded projects in low-income and vulnerable households.
In the next 18 months, Thermulon aims to scale its material production capacity to be able to produce its first integrated insulation products and carry out demonstration projects in homes and buildings. Having the first demonstration home insulated with Thermulon material will be a major milestone that proves both the viability of the production process and its applicability to commercial use cases. The company will need to scale the process, work with development partners in final products such as plasters and renders, and collaborate with architectural firms to achieve this.
Thermulon has taken equity investment from both Deep Science Ventures and Sustainable Ventures. In addition to the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Fellowship, it has been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Tech Prize. Thermulon is collaborating with several development and commercial partners including the Centre for Process Innovation, Imperial College London, and lime render and plaster manufacturer Best of Lime.
August 2019 - Pre-seed equity investment from Deep Science Ventures.
October 2019 - First proofs of chemistry with Durham University and the Centre for Process Innovation.
April 2020 - Seed round equity investment from a consortium including Sustainable Ventures and climate-focused angel investors.
August 2020 - Awarded SMART Grant with Best of Lime and Imperial College London .
November 2020 - SMART Grant Kickoff for aerogel and plaster development and scaling.
“The Enterprise Fellowship has been key in helping Thermulon to focus its technical development on commercial goals and understand the landscape of the UK startup funding industry. Personally, the Fellowship has also proved vital to me as an awardee in providing guidance in the transition from employee to entrepreneur, and in connecting me with a group of like-minded individuals embarking on the same journey.”
Losing your eyesight is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person.
Some forms of vision loss that affect the retina, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), or diabetes can be treated. This requires monthly injections into the eye for at least five years. The treatment works well for most people but requires regular outpatient visits and there is a small risk of additional complications from the injection process itself.
There is a real need to make treatments better, safer and more convenient.
I-Daruma has developed a technology that takes the same treatment and makes it possible to deliver the currently injected drugs as eye drops instead. It works by creating short-lived nanoparticles that are mixed with the drugs. These then dissociate at the target tissues, releasing the drug. The nanoparticles are made from compounds that naturally occur in the body and are well-tolerated, giving the technology the advantages of nanoparticle delivery without the toxicity associated with current nanoparticles.
The eye drops will address several issues with the current treatment regime. While injections must be administered by trained healthcare professionals in a clinical setting, eye drops can be administered by the patient themselves anywhere, resulting in large healthcare cost savings.
Worldwide, there were 14 million intravitreal injections performed in 2018 and it’s a number that has been growing 20% year-on-year. The drivers of treatment are the ageing global population and metabolic disease such as diabetes. About one third of people living with diabetes will suffer from diabetic retinopathy. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is also a leading cause of vision loss in Europe and the US. Currently, 196 million people are estimated to be affected by AMD globally, a figure expected to hit 288 million by 2040.
In the next 12 to 18 months, Naa Dei anticipates applying for InnovateUK Grant funding and looks forward to completing pre-clinical trials and having a dossier for approval for clinical trials.
2020 – Awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Fellowship.
2020 – Piloting trials of technology with a pharmaceutical company.
“[The Enterprise Fellowship] has opened my eyes to what goes into turning a neat idea into a business and has equipped me with tools to do so. It’s an amazing network of people at different stages of their enterprises, and I’ve found it very supportive.”
Over two billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. Membrane processes have been identified as effective techniques to remove contamination and salts from water. However, existing solutions are energy and capital intensive, require frequent maintenance and impose significant barriers to deployment.
Waterwhelm are commercialising a patent-pending process for wastewater treatment, water treatment, desalination and dewatering that will overcome these challenges by engineering the natural process of osmosis. The innovation has the potential to cut electricity consumption by a staggering 90% compared to current practice and reduce capital costs by more than 35%.
Over the next 12 months it will be developing, commissioning and testing a sizeable pilot plant that will validate the technology in an industrial environment. Waterwhelm aim to learn from the unit and receive feedback from early adopters based on its trial performance.
Supported by the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub , Scottish Enterprise, Innovate UK and EIT Climate KIC, Waterwhelm has gained significant technical and commercial traction by developing one of the most promising technologies addressing problems faced by the rapidly growing global water market.
2018: Waterwhelm founded
2019: Winner of the Converge KickStart Challenge
2019: Awarded as the top enterprise emerging from the University of Edinburgh
2019: Pre-seed funding round completed
2020: Innovate UK Global Challenges Research Fund project starts
2020: First plant developed for technology validation in collaboration with a major industrial partner
“The Academy Enterprise Fellowship has provided the Waterwhelm founder with hands-on support in commercialising the technology.”
The fashion industry has a waste problem. Out of all clothing produced, 30% of it is never sold or worn.
Supply chain inefficiencies cost fashion companies an estimated $300 billion a year globally. Julija Bainiaksinaite founded MyFactori in 2014 to tackle this waste problem and is now building a platform for SME fashion brands to run and better optimise their supply chain logistics. Through raw material sourcing to production management and better demand forecasting, MyFactori is building a platform for companies to streamline their operations to reduce waste.
It is currently working towards securing founding partners and clients, and will launch its beta testing platform at the end of this year.
“The Enterprise Fellowship helped me to support my technology development and provided great educational resources on setting up a startup company.”
Text on many digital displays is designed to resemble a page in a book. This does not harness the dynamic, interactive, customisable potential of electronic screens. The current format is not designed with user experience in mind, but to be economical on space. For the visually impaired, the ‘steady-eye strategy’ is recommended, but no tool exists to achieve this. Lawyers and other professions have low productivity in reading-based tasks. The paragraph format does not fit well on small screens.
Predictive text allows machines to take on some of the burden of writing, by using predictable patterns in writing. BrightPage Tech is offering predictive text for reading. Like writing, there are patterns in the process of reading that can be predicted, allowing the machine to lighten the reader’s load.
When reading a line of text, our eyes do not move in a smooth, continuous movement; rather they move in a series of short, rapid jumps (saccades) and fixations. BrightPage’s core innovation is to make the text on the screen mimic these movements. Using a bank of eye tracking data, eye movements have been reverse engineered into an algorithm that takes any English text and presents it dynamically to optimise it for reading. The reader can relax and allow the electronic display device to do the hard work.
The first product in development aims to help some of the 285 million blind and partially sighted people worldwide. It enables them to use the ‘steady-eye strategy’, recommended when reading eccentrically. It is the only tool that targets this. Further products will target reading from small displays, speeding up reading-based tasks and immersive eBooks, with the company aiming to take advantage of the LegalTech AI market, which is growing at 36% annually.
BrightPage is currently validating the product market fit and making use of its partnerships with the Royal Academy of Engineering and Innovate UK.
2019: Selected for company formation from ICURe options roundabout
2020: Won £210,000 Innovate UK grant
2020: Won Scottish EDGE Wildcard competition
“[The Enterprise Fellowship] has provided training tailored to academics entering entrepreneurship, networking opportunities to raise investment and the funding to progress.”
Demand for e-Bikes across Europe is growing by 30% per year as people find them a fast and fun way to get around congested cities. However, most e-Bikes are too heavy and bulky to be used flexibly, for example with public transport.
FLIT develops lightweight folding e-bikes for urban commuters.
Folding e-bikes open up the market to new customers as they can be easily stored or used with public transport. By developing a folding e-bike from scratch, and integrating the electrical system into the frame, FLIT’s first product, the FLIT-16, is 30% lighter and smaller than a typical folding e-bike.
The first batch of FLIT-16s will be delivered to customers in late 2020. FLIT then plans to use feedback to continue experimenting in the folding e-bike niche. It will develop both new e-Bike models, for example to target customers in the leisure market, and new sales channels, such as leasing and subscription.
By the end of 2021, FLIT aims to have FLIT-16s available for purchase in shops across the UK, announce a new model of folding e-bike, and begin trialling a leasing scheme. In 2022 it hopes to expand into international markets in Europe and North America.
In 2019, 3.4 million e-bikes, worth £5 billion, were sold across the EU and UK. That volume had grown by an average of 31% a year since 2006. Folding bike sales also grew at about 15% a year over a similar period. The UK market for e-bikes is less mature than regional leaders such as the Netherlands or Germany, but is growing even faster. In the UK in 2018-19, the e-bike market grew by 66%, and folding e-bikes grew by over 200%.
2017 – Awarded Department for Transport Innovation Challenge Fund grant
2018 – Accepted onto the Design Council Spark accelerator, winning additional funding through a commendation award
2018 – Raised pre-seed investment from UK angels
2018 – Established a prototyping and manufacturing relationship in Taiwan
2019 – Filed a patent and registered designs for the FLIT-16
2019 – Eurobike Startup Award finalist and won ACID Design and IP Champion Award 2019 – Sold over 100 e-bikes via a Kickstarter pre-sales campaign, exceeding its target by 440%
2020 – Continued sales of the FLIT-16, and first deliveries to customers
“The business training has been extremely useful for expanding my knowledge of how the world of business really works, in particular my presentation, leadership and financial skills. The network obtained via the Academy is also very useful for raising investment rounds and consulting leading experts for advice.”
Electroplated coatings can become tarnished if exposed to corrosive environments.
Alex Nielsen has developed an electroplating additive that adds value to the metal coating by enhancing resistance to corrosion and tarnish.
Copper is naturally anti-microbial and anti-viral, but uncoated it readily corrodes, creating a maintenance problem for the end user. Armadillo Metal Coatings is currently testing the technical and commercial feasibility of its anti-tarnishing technology with copper electroplated coatings for door furnishings with a pair of world-leading industrial partners.
The door furnishing market is forecast to generate around £500 million in revenues in 2020, with demand for copper and brasses growing. This trend should accelerate due to COVID-19, as surfaces that can prevent the transmission of viruses and microbes become more sought after in hospitals, public areas and offices.
May 2020 - Closed first round of VC funding
August 2020 - Received £2,000 from Swansea University for project work to combat COVID-19.
“The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Fellowship programme have provided very good advice on Venture Capital, grant funding and recruitment. The courses have been very useful, specifically sales and marketing. The award has also allowed our company to use university facilities during lockdown meaning technical development has progressed.”
What makes us different is the Academy’s Fellows and our wider Mentor network – an unrivalled community of the UK’s most successful industry leaders, technology experts and entrepreneurs. Find out more about our Mentors and their areas of expertise.
Brewster Barclay has been selling, marketing and product managing for more than 40 years in a wide variety of high technology industries including printed circuit boards, both manufacturing processes and capital equipment, 3D circuit boards, online advertising, optical sensors, military chip packaging, radar tubes and software engineering services. Brewster has worked at Zuhlke Engineering, e2v technologies, Clicktream Technologies, Orbotech and PCK Technology Kollmorgen.
The experience of launching new products and almost six years running an internet advertising startup led to Brewster giving back in the form of mentoring early stage and growth startups. He identified a massive gap in business development, sales support and strategy that angels, accelerators and VCs give to startups. He has focused solely on sharing his experiences in business development sales, sales techniques and the practicalities of day to day sales and lead generation.
He has mentored at the Royal Academy of Engineering for the past seven years as well as for Accelerate Cambridge, Seraphim Space Capital and many other groups.
Dr Mark Selby joined Ceres Power in 2006 as a control systems engineer and spent several years in various leadership roles. In 2013, he became Chief Technology Officer as part of deploying a new corporate strategy to embed Ceres Technology through licensing to world-leading product companies like Bosch, Weichai, Doosan and Honda.
Mark is responsible for all aspects of the Steel Cell technology and brings 20 years of experience in clean technology product development, always working in multidisciplinary teams to solve hard science and engineering problems. As CTO, he sits at the interface of the commercial, technology, shareholders and wider stakeholders’ worlds and uses this insight to build ambitious collaborative programs that create value for everyone involved in the journey.
Prior to joining Ceres Power, he was part of the Control and Electronics Team at Ricardo UK Limited. Mark has degrees in electronics, dynamics and control systems from the University of Leeds and is a charted engineer.
His mission is to get world-changing science out of the lab and into products that actually change the world.
Professor Anthony Dormer May OBE FREng has over 50 years' experience in transport planning and traffic engineering. He has been a professor at Leeds since 1977, and has served as Director of the Institute for Transport Studies, Head of the Department of Civil Engineering, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research. Between 1985 and 2001 he maintained a link between research and teaching at Leeds and practical experience in consultancy with MVA Ltd, where he was Director of Transport Policy.
Prior to 1977 he spent 10 years with the Greater London Council, where he was responsible for policy on highways, traffic management and transport-related land use planning for the capital. He managed major studies on traffic restraint, parking policy and motorway traffic control during his time there.
Anthony was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1995, and awarded an OBE for services to transport engineering in 2004. He retired in 2009 but has remained active in research, consultancy and policy development. He served as President of the World Conference on Transport Research Society between 2007 and 2013. He has until recently been Editor-in-Chief of the European Transport Research Review and Secretary General of the World Conference on Transport Research Society. He currently chairs York Civic Trust's Transport Advisory Group, focusing on developing a sustainable transport policy for the city.
Mark joined Business Growth Fund in May 2011 and is based in London, with a UK wide role. He is part of senior management and assists the investment teams to assess the operational capability/opportunity of potential investees. He sits on the Board of a number of portfolio companies and works with many others where he is able to add value. He is also a member of the Industrial Development Advisory Board.
Mark has had 30 years’ experience in industry, primarily as the managing director/CEO of several manufacturing companies, including Pressurements Ltd, Druck Holdings Plc and General Electric, manufacturing a range of instrumentation and sensors covering sectors including aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, and test and metrology. He has also worked for M&H Plastic, a manufacturer of rigid plastic packaging for the personal care market. Mark has sold a number of the companies he has led and has successfully integrated bolt-on acquisitions.
Peter Childs FREng is the Professorial Lead in Engineering Design in the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College London and a Founder, Director and Chair of Q-Bot Ltd. His general interests include: creativity tools and innovation; design process and design rationale; fluid flow and heat transfer, particularly rotating flow; sustainable energy component, concept and system design; and robotics. He was the founding Head of School for the Dyson School of Design Engineering and prior roles include director of the Rolls-Royce supported University Technology Centre for Aero-Thermal Systems and director of InQbate at the University of Sussex.
He has contributed to over 200 papers, and several books including the Handbook on Mechanical Design Engineering as well as books on temperature and rotating flow. His roles at Imperial College London include Professor at Large for the Innovation Design Engineering double master’s degree run jointly by Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art and is Professor of Excellence at MD-H, Berlin. He is Editor of the Journal of Power and Energy.
Peter was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2019.
Brian Palmer FREng is an entrepreneurial business leader in product design and manufacturing, who established Tharsus. The company focused on collaborative, complex, early-stage prototype development to help customers improve their products, before it evolved into an innovative business specialising in original equipment design and manufacture.
Today, he manages over 190 staff and has an impressive list of clients including BT, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Safety-Kleen, ITM Power, QinetiQ and Ocado. Brian Palmer has won two Cranfield Best Factory Awards and was named the Institute of Director’s North East Investor Director of the Year in 2013.
Philip Broad is an experienced finance director and business mentor working with companies across a range of sectors and growth stages. He holds an MEng (Hons) in electrical and mechanical engineering from the University of Edinburgh, and was a Royal Academy of Engineering Engineering Leadership Scholar Award holder while there.
He joined PricewaterhouseCoopers in London (audit) and subsequently spent two years based in the Transaction Services division in Frankfurt working with corporate and private equity investors in Germany. His experience since has included: commercial finance and corporate development roles in energy infrastructure; finance director of an energy infrastructure company in Denmark; interim finance director for divisions of a London-based FTSE 100 company; and startup experience.
Philip is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and an ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty member.
Dr Andrew Muir has 30 years’ experience in growing and financing technology and high growth companies. He is a director of the Midven, a specialist fund manager where he manages the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund (partnered with many of the leading UK publicly funded laboratories and their campuses) and the Stephenson fund (backed by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers).
After an initial scientific career at Zeneca, Andrew went on to roles in research and business development at the medical device company Biocompatibles and was then Vice-President of Technology for a US startup in disinfection of medical equipment.
He started his career in venture capital with the £4 million per annum Invention and Innovation seed capital fund at NESTA (the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts). He has a degree and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Oxford. Andrew is also currently on the investment committee for several funds managed by FSE, the iCure roundabout panel and the selection panel for the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Enterprise Fellowship scheme.
Andrew combines a strong scientific and technical grounding with a real commercial pragmatism developed from his operational roles.
Paul Excell is an award-winning entrepreneur, investor and global executive leader with an impressive track record of delivering growth and transformation in startups, scale-ups, global corporates and is passionate about social mobility. He is Chief Operating Officer and Non-Executive Director at ScaleUp Group™️, providing tech scaleups with unique insights from successful entrepreneurs with over $4 billion in exits plus patient equity/debt growth funding (£2 million to £20 million). He has six tech clients in the growth portfolio, and his clients have raised £30 million to date.
In addition to this, Paul is Co-Founder and Chair of Global iLabs, Founder and CEO of Excelerate™️ and Non-Executive Director with Knowledge Gateway (University of Essex). He acts as a judge and mentor for the UK Enterprise Awards and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Launchpad Innovation Award and SME Leaders.
Paul was previously Chief Customer Innovation Officer, Chief Operating Officer/Group Technology Officer, SVP[PS1] Global at BT, Chair/member of several business Boards (UK and Spain, Nordics, AsiaPac) and sat on BT Group Board committees on Technology, Risk and Diversity. He was an Engineering Council Board member and acted as advisor to UN Secretary General on sustainability, technology and innovation.
He started his career as an apprentice and is now a chartered engineer (CEng), Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET), the Chartered Institute for IT (FBCS) and Court Liveryman, Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.