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.
Charco NeurotechLtd has developed the CUE1, a small, non-invasive, wearable therapeutic device for people with Parkinson’s disease. Worn on the sternum, the device delivers two validated neuromodulation therapies at the same time: focused vibrotactile stimulation and ‘cueing’. These improve motor performance and alleviate numerous symptoms, for example countering ‘freezing of gait’ (when people feel their feet are stuck to the ground).
The CUE1’s focused stimulation works with the body’s sensory system to help improve the speed and fluidity of an individual’s movement. Cueing uses regular or rhythmic stimuli to assist a person with Parkinson’s to start and continue movements like walking. Patients who have benefitted from the CUE1 say that their motions become smoother and better coordinated when wearing the device.
Everyone’s Parkinson’s is different, so an accompanying Bluetooth-enabled app (the CUE app) allows an individual to fine-tune the device’s vibration settings. It also provides a symptom tracker plus interactive games to record progress and movement.
Soo-Min (Lucy) Jung is the co-founder and CEO at Charco Neurotech. Lucy joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator in 2022 and says, “As Charco grows, I would like to enhance my leadership skills in several key areas, including strategic negotiations and dealmaking. The mentorship will also be an important element in my professional development – I will benefit both from the mentor’s advice and their expertise.”
At the end of 2021, Charco raised £7.4 million in a seed investment round. The company will use this to expand its team and continue the release of the CUE1. The funding will also ensure that the production of the device is fully scalable and the manufacturing quality is consistent. The backers of Charco believe that the CUE1 has the ability to greatly enhance the quality of life for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s worldwide.
Porotech has created a new class of semiconductor material: porous GaN, a composite of solid GaN and air. The company’s breakthroughs enable nanoscopic holes to be made in the semiconductor, resulting in a wide range of optical, mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties. The company is also delivering monochrome and full-colour micro-LED products to exceptionally high specifications.
Before this innovation, the manufacture of full-colour micro-LED displays was complicated and commercially prohibitive. Several material systems needed to be combined to develop a finished product. Porotech’s innovative process allows monochrome and full-colour displays to be placed on a single indium gallium nitride material system at mass scale, with the luminosity, efficiency and resolution needed for high-quality image projection against bright backgrounds.
Now, all three light-emitting elements can be produced using a single toolchain. Porotech’s technology offers a brand new material platform for semiconductor devices to be built on. This will be relevant for emerging markets such as micro-LED displays, metasurfaces, sensors, lasers, and quantum light sources.
Dr Yingjun Liu is the co-founder and CTO of Porotech Ltd, and joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator in 2022. He says, “As I am responsible for setting the technology plan and managing growing teams, I want to develop a unique blend of management and technical skills for a high-growth business. Being able to exchange ideas with future industrial leaders and learn from leading entrepreneurs will help me contribute even more to our company’s global business and technology progress.”
Porotech recently secured £14.5 million in Series A funding. This investment will help the company to speed up its production of micro-LED products and rapidly scale up. Micro-LED displays will play an important part in subsequent generations of TVs, wearables, smartphones, and AR glasses.
Surfactants, used to decrease surface or interfacial tensions, have multiple uses in the chemical industry. Their industrial applications include household detergents, cosmetics, and agriculture. Holiferm Ltd, a Manchester-based company, is looking to move away from non-fossil-based chemical surfactants by developing and supplying sustainable, fermentation-derived ingredients for industrial and consumer products.
Holiferm has developed commercially viable, continuous manufacturing processes for biosurfactants and lipids that are able to deliver green products to the mass market at volume, and at competitive prices. The company’s patented integrated gravity separation and fermentation technology increases fermentation process productivity fourfold and reduces biosurfactant production costs by more than 50%.
Vicky De Groof joined Holiferm as a fermentation engineer. Within a year she had become the company’s Chief Technology Officer, responsible for a team of 10 people. Vicky then joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator programme in 2022, and says, “I hope the networking opportunities and workshops will allow me to meet others, create new ideas, widen my perspectives, build my business confidence and lead to serendipitous findings.”
Holiferm is aiming to persuade the £27 billion surfactant market to move away from petroleum-based chemicals to biobased, sustainable alternatives. In 2021, the company started the year with a team of 10 and a pilot plant. By the end of that year, it had raised over £7 million of investment, increased the team to 20 people, and started to build a commercial plant.
Now, it is developing and refining new processes, doubling the team count again and generating a clear product pipeline. Holiferm’s fermentation technology will enable it to produce other types of biosurfactants and fermentation-derived chemicals that will help transform the chemical industry into a more sustainable one.
There are approximately 50 pantograph (an apparatus mounted on the roof of an electric train to collect power through contact with an overhead line) related incidents in the UK each year. These cause cancellations of passenger services, damage infrastructure, reduce safety and reliability of electrified train operation and have huge financial implications (tens of millions of pounds per incident) for both train operating companies and infrastructure managers such as Network Rail.
A lack of real-time information about pantograph operation and being unable to regularly inspect the infrastructure to inform data-driven decisions currently costs Network Rail around £530 million per annum.
Sentech Analytics Ltd has developed a new ‘smart-pantograph’ system: a multi-parameter, patented and field-evaluated optical fibre-based sensor system integrated with video information, to inform better data-driven maintenance solutions. This system allows users to create comprehensive inspection reports (required by the regulatory bodies) and reduce maintenance costs by providing real-time insight on the status of infrastructure and railway pantographs, preventing costly incidents while reducing maintenance and service outages.
Recent work with Network Rail on the Great Western Electrification programme illustrated this, and the smart pantograph now facilitates faster, more environmentally friendly passenger journeys between Bristol and Cardiff.
The company’s plan moving forward is to get detailed understanding of the challenges faced by the main stakeholders (within the UK and EU), to secure a pilot project and establish appropriate business models for two different market segments: train operating companies and infrastructure managers.
“In this very short period of time, the training provided by the Royal Academy of Engineering has been very important for my personal development as well as a great guidance on how to establish the company. In addition to that, having regular conversations with staff and my coach has been very helpful to get answers to a number of dilemmas.”
When a manufacturer, for example a car maker, wants a new component made, it will go to a supplier with its specifications. To make this new item, the supplier needs material multi-axial property data to predict its materials’ response in the manufacturing process. Existing testing methods cannot supply such data across all possible temperature and stress states.
To solve this issue, Dr Zhutao Shao and his colleagues from Imperial College London have developed and patented the world’s first high-temperature multi-axial material testing system. This patented testing process involves stretching a piece of material from multiple directions and under different service conditions until it fractures. Customers are then given the data and can use it to optimise their material’s structure.
Most existing systems use room temperature for testing and some may go up to 300° to 500°C. Dr Shao’s innovation can go over 1,000°C when needed. This option is important when judging how a material will behave under various stress states during the hot stamping manufacturing process. His multi-axial testing also undertakes fatigue, tension and compression testing of materials within a wide range of temperatures. The suite of checks are labelled ‘hot multi-axial tests’.
Multi-X Solutions already collaborates with car component suppliers for lightweight structural design and production of vehicles and will start trial sales in 2020. The company currently has one service and two products open to the transportation industry. Multi-X Solutions also has a materials database that will be added to as the company conducts tests on more engineering materials and structures.
The market that Multi-X are working in stands at £850 million worldwide and is rapidly expanding. The company is now looking to further develop and standardise the cost-effective testing methods for the data-driven advanced manufacturing industry.
2018 Awarded Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Impact Acceleration Account funding
2018 Awarded title of the Most Valuable Project in Tencent Auto Open Platform Competition
2019 Dr Zhutao Shao was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2020 Accepted onto Imperial Techcelerate Programme
Unmanned Life’s software-as-a-service platform integrates different types of drones and robots to work together as autonomous fleets. The company uses AI to automatically deploy and manage UAVs and ground vehicles, both indoors and outdoors. These collaborative autonomous workforces can be used for a variety of business uses including surveillance and security, public safety, emergency response, warehousing, logistics, shipping and inventory counts.
Unmanned Life’s Autonomy-as-a-Service platform works over the cloud, with or without GPS, and communicates via radio, Wi-Fi, 4G or 5G. It can integrate swarms of different types of robotic devices to work together and its services have potential for the Industry 4.0 and Smart City applications.
Wasif Mehdi, is the Chief Operating Officer at Unmanned Life responsible for company operations and portfolio delivery. He also fills the role of Product Lead, jointly with the CTO and CEO. Wasif joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator programme in 2022. He says, “Networking with my peers will enable a cross-pollination of ideas, strategies and approaches for us. I see the accelerator as a critical source of knowledge, experience and skills that will feed into our business’s day-to-day operations. This will be especially relevant across our teams, processes and tools, and help smooth our scale up journey.”
Unmanned Life has already succeeded in getting significant investment and establishing working partnerships. The company is now looking to secure recurring commercial revenue contracts — a key milestone to achieve in preparation for a Series A funding round. It will then be able to fully exploit its position as the world’s leading provider of a cloud-based, software-controlled, fully autonomous drone and robot service platform.
Recycleye Ltd has created the world’s largest visual AI dataset of waste materials, working in collaboration with academics from leading European universities. Using this knowledge, the company has developed Recycleye Vision, a database with over 3 million labelled images classifying waste. This system combines AI, smart analytics and low-cost cameras to identify refuse in real time. It can further refine identification by weight and brand detection and is already being used in large materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in England, Northern Ireland, France and Italy.
Recycleye Robotics encompasses a robotic picking system in tandem with the Recycleye Vision database to physically pick up the recyclable waste at an MRF and place it into containers. The robot can pick 55 items a minute and is both more consistently efficient and accurate than human pickers. By applying machine learning, the system is able to detect differences between items such as food and non-food-grade plastics. As a result, the increased accuracy of the process boosts the resale value of the output bales of an MRF’s recyclables by as much as fivefold.
Peter Hedley is the co-founder and CTO at Recycleye, and joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator programme in 2022. He says, “Our company has expanded so quickly that I am now the manager of other managers! I feel the accelerator scheme will give me the support to improve our planning, culture and technical strategy. The programme will also give me access to a network of other senior SME people who will share valuable knowledge at a critical stage of our growing business.”
Recycleye’s potential has already been recognised and it has raised around £5 million to date. The company will use this funding to scale up and increase the accuracy and capabilities of its machine learning and robotics technology. It will also look to expand its product line and find more European partners.
Material Evolution Ltd is using machine learning algorithms and patented geopolymer technology to turn waste into new materials. The company’s first success has been to use its pioneering chemical and manufacturing processes to produce a cement replacement made from 96% industrial waste.
The main carbon emitter in concrete is cement. By developing previously unused waste streams, such as slag from the steel industry, Material Evolution has been able to reduce CO2 emissions in its cement by 85%. The company’s machine learning algorithms ensure material consistency and repeatability in every batch.
Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Gilligan is a co-founder and the CEO of Material Evolution. Liz provides the technical direction for the company, as well as fundraising and selling. In 2022, she joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator programme and says, “This will hone my leadership skills for running our technical and non-technical teams. I plan to use the accelerator to develop more contacts and establish the best ways to inform people about the company and its products.”
Material Evolution’s potential has already been recognised. Towards the close of 2021, it raised £2.5 million in seed investment and grants. The company intends to use this to hire more team members, develop more products and set up batch production facilities. It ambitions are to work on new waste streams, achieve a production capacity of 100,000 tonnes, and further evolve its production algorithms. This will help the company achieve its aim: to help rapidly and radically decarbonise the UK’s foundation industries by improving their energy and resource efficiencies.
Cell and gene therapies have proven to be effective methods of treatment for diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and a range of cancers. However, there are two main challenges hindering the use and accessibility of these therapies. The first is that development timelines can be slow, due to time spent on resource-intensive process redesigns. The second is that manufacturing costs are currently high, due to expensive reagents, the necessity of clean room facilities and high batch failure rates.
MicrofluidX Ltd is tackling the problems of process control, scalability, and high costs associated with cell bioprocessing, particularly for autologous cell and gene therapy. Its automated closed technology enables scientists to speedily carry out process development by running dozens of cell culture conditions in parallel, with extreme process control. MicrofluidX’s strategy then facilitates scale up of the optimal condition to several billion cells for manufacturing at a fraction of current costs, while maintaining the same process development cell environment, thus avoiding expensive process redesigns.
Dr James Kusena is Vice President of Bioprocessing and Applications at MicrofluidX. James joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator programme in 2022. He says, “There are several areas of expertise that I would like to develop including: creative and strategic thinking, project management and effective decision-making. These would allow me to enhance my leadership skills for both projects and partnerships.”
MicrofluidX is now looking to further develop its microfluidics-based cell and gene therapy process development and manufacturing platforms. The company will do this by disseminating a range of prototypes to partners in order to gain further external validation. It will also finalise the research and development of its chip and cassette designs, ready for manufacturing. This will permit MicrofluidX to grow its network and close its Series A funding.
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.
Gareth is a strategic growth marketing specialist with over eighteen years’ experience of analysis, marketing and sales. He specialise in identifying and implementing growth potential for businesses across a multitude of industries, technologies and geographies. Gareth is a cohort head with a special focus on growth acceleration sprints, working with corporate partners to accelerate e-commerce in Telco and Aviation.
He has worked as VP Marketing, at Property Partner, a UK Fintech property investment platform and marketplace allowing investors to buy and trade shares in residential, commercial and student property. He was Chief Marketing Officer at ASAP54, a new fashion e-commerce technology search tool using a combination of image recognition, text search and community engagement on iOS, Android and desktop.
He is interested in proving market viability, defining and executing go-to-market strategies and commercialisation methods for cross-industry ventures. Gareth has experience of setting up growth for more than 30 businesses in the last four years and 65 venture propositions. His capabilities include competitive market intelligence, data-driven marketing experiments, personalisation, analytics, and creating martech stacks across traditional and digital channels.
Don Smith consults on innovation, invention, disruption and startup business strategy and has his own invention and disruption practice called One Hundred Flowers.
Until 2016, Don was an award-winning executive creative director in the advertising, marketing and digital business transformation fields, which he then left to begin a new career as a consultant, strategist and inventor.
Don has advised on business strategy for large corporates as well as SMEs, startups, spin-outs and new ventures of all types. His real passion lies in supporting young innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs to find the optimum path to value in their ventures. Having developed and run two invention startups of his own, Don is no stranger to the complexities of life as an entrepreneur.
Don’s strategic approach to innovation, invention and disruption, known as ‘Concept theory’, helps businesses of all sizes to embrace the value of innovation.
His model has been developed using some of the most advanced theories and methodologies from the universities of Harvard, Stanford and NYU, as well as strategies and systems from many of the world’s most forward-thinking minds. His model is currently being used to test and develop several spin-out ventures from University of Edinburgh.
Adam has held several senior positions with large- and medium-sized businesses, focusing on sales, marketing and commercial responsibilities.
These included being Business Development Director at a manufacturer of electricity meters, Sales Director and then Managing Director at a manufacturer of electric motors and generators, and Sales Director then Technical Director at a manufacturer of ultra-high precision instruments. All these roles have included a high level of international responsibilities, including running sales subsidiaries in China, Japan, the US and Europe.
More recently, Adam has focused on corporate-level commercial activities including acquisitions, disposals and fundraising. He has acted as an advisor to an investment bank, is a non-executive director at two technical business and trustee at two charities. He is a business angel investor in a private capacity.
Adam has a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Cambridge, an MBA from INSEAD where he was a Sainsbury Management Fellow, and is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology .
Malcolm has been an active supporter of the Academy’s entrepreneurship activities in the UK and abroad for many years.
Following a distinguished career at Shell, Malcolm is currently Chair of Engineering UK, President of the Energy Institute and also finds time to Chair the Judging Panel of the Academy’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
Malcolm was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2002.
Dr Supti Sarkar leads the Technology and Investments Group at PwC. She is responsible for the commercialisation of new tech ventures across the firm, and works with in-house entrepreneurs to get their products market ready.
Supti was formally a management consultant at PA Consulting, where she worked with international and regional governments to support their trade and investment strategies. She was also part of Mayor Sadiq Khan's 2016 delegation to Chicago and New York as part of her role in supporting high growth companies entering the US market for the first time. Supti holds a first class degree and PhD in engineering from University College London and is mum to an eight-year-old daughter.
In some of the most male-dominated parts of the engineering world, Jane has shown by example that women are at least as capable as men. Her work in education has been dedicated to keeping the door open behind her for future generations of engineers.
Jane Atkinson is currently Director, Cape Specialist Services part of Cape Ltd, an international leader in the provision of critical industrial services.
Brought up in Middlesbough, her career began as a sponsored engineering student with British Steel in 1990. She worked as a technical advisor at the Teesside Blast Furnace before moving into operations, managing the Cast House at Redcar. During her time in the steel industry she managed many major production units and spent five years with the company in Alabama in the USA. Jane then moved into power generation managing coal and gas fired assets for Sembcorp Utilities Ltd. During that role she was responsible for the operations of the UK’s first Biomass Power Plant.
Jane has won several awards most notably the CBI First Woman Award in Manufacturing and the prestigious Stephenson’s Award for inspiring young people in science and engineering. She is an active member of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Chair of the UK IChemE Board. Jane is also a Governor of Teesside University and an Advisory Board Member of the National Science Museum in London.
“If I can persuade at least one child a year to become an engineer, I think I must be doing OK. It’s my mission.”
David Gammon founded Rockspring in 2002 after 17 years of investment banking experience.
Rockspring provides advice and capital to disruptive technology companies from seed through scale up. His family are the benefactors of the JC Gammon Launchpad Award run by the Enterprise Hub.
David is a non-executive director at Raspberry Pi
Trading Limited, Accesso Technology Group plc and Frontier Developments plc. He is on the Advisory Boards to IQ Capital Partners LLP and
Thought Machine Limited. He is a member of the Scale Up Institute.
Shamus Rae is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engine B. A dedicated change-maker and with 21 years in business transformation, Shamus is now focused exclusively on leveraging AI and data to transform organisations.
In 2019 Shamus formed Engine B with Donne Burrows. Supported by the ICAEW and the main audit firms, Engine B aims to expedite digitisation of the professional services industry (accounting and legal) and crucially, level the playing field for all organisations, large and small. Engine B is a collaborative consortium bringing together technology houses, key industry players, end clients, new startups, regulators, and investors.
Prior to Engine B, Shamus spent 13 years at KPMG as a Partner, leading in business transformation. Most recently as Head of Innovation and Digital Disruption, his work concentrated on new and disruptive technologies and their impact on the professional services industry.
Shamus is intent on revolutionising the way companies work with his people-focused values paving the way for a new generation of responsible leadership. Both a highly respected voice and dedicated advocate of how we must use the digital revolution for good, Shamus is a key speaker at many industry events. For two consecutive years he has been a significant contributor to CogX and is regularly called on to share his insights with leading industry publications.
Professor Richard Brook OBE FREng is an experienced angel investor with technology expertise in the field of measurement, instrumentation and control systems. He has over forty years of experience in developing new instrumentation and applications for use in various sectors including manufacturing, space and defence.
He was co-founder and a director of the investment company
E-synergy, which invested in over a hundred startup and early stage growth
companies. He is a past chairman of a number of advisory boards and committees
for policy development and funding oversight in the UK’s innovation, space and
academic research sectors and was until 2015 a non-executive director of NPL
Management Ltd (running the UK’s National Physical Laboratory).
He is currently a board member and executive president of The Association of Innovation, Research and Technology Organisations (AIRTO) and a board director of the Satellite Finance Network.
Richard is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (2007) and was appointed OBE in 2004 for services to higher education and the UK space industry.
“During my time at E-Synergy, I have invested a significant amount of time in mentoring entrepreneurs and preparing companies for investment. The mentoring support I’m providing at the Academy is a natural extension of this, and I’m looking forward to helping some fascinating projects to reach their full market potential.”