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.
There are 70 million people who require prosthetic limbs around the world. Sadly, limb loss is up to 100 times more common in low-resource regions of the world. Current prostheses are rigid, uncomfortable, over-engineered and prohibitively expensive – as in £1000s to 10s of £1000s per device. Because of this, 90% of people with limb differences have no access to prostheses at all.
Ben Lakey is the co-founder of Mitt Wearables. Mitt has developed easy-to-use, comfortable prosthetic limbs that are drastically more affordable than any other solutions.
Instead of having rigid sockets that clinicians must specially fit to users, Mitt’s prosthetic limbs have an adjustable interface that users can fit themselves, which makes them light, breathable and much more comfortable. They are developing a growing range of task-specific tools that clip in and out of the prosthesis – for holding a pen, a kitchen knife, a table tennis bat or whatever the user needs.
Ben’s interest in prosthetics stemmed from a personal experience, after his sister had a traumatic foot injury 7 years ago that eventually led to a below-knee amputation. He saw first-hand the difficulties she experienced with rehabilitation and when trying to get prosthetics fitted correctly.
With an affordable price point, and a device that can be fitted by users themselves without medical intervention, Mitt can provide direct to the users and communities that need them, no matter how isolated from medical infrastructure. Removing barriers and empowering individuals to take control over their own disability. Mitt’s ambition is to open up opportunities to people around the world by giving them the power over their own limbs.
Find out more about Mitt Wearables at https://www.wearmitt.com/
The flexible and printed electronics markets are working towards having speedy, defect-free manufacturing processes. To achieve this, they need new inspection systems that allow live testing and enable real-time quality assurance without stopping production.
Dr Muhamedsalih has helped create a multi-wavelength polarising interferometer (MPI) for in-line surface metrology. It operates at the micro/nano-scale level and can be used for real time inspections of moving surfaces. The interferometer is combined with a software method to handle larger amount of data for surface analysis without direct interaction from the operator.
The system detects and characterises defects. This means that manufacturers will be able to understand what causes faults and take measures to correct them. Importantly, the technology is sufficiently robust to be used on the shop floor.
Hussam is now working to validate the MPI’s performance with world-leading manufacturers and research centres. His innovation is being tested by the UK Catapult National Centre for Printable Electronics – Centre for Process Innovation. His proof of concept system should reach Technology Readiness Level 9 before the end of 2021 and be ready to launch and available to buy soon after.
Analysts have forecast that the global metrology market will grow to over $600 million by 2023 in the traditional manufacturing market. Hussam’s technology also fits into the printed and flexible electronics markets, which are predicted to grow to $77 billion by 2023.
For Dr Muhamedsalih, the Enterprise Fellowship experience has: “allowed me to structure my business model and test it out by intensive direct interaction with industry and potential clients.”
Duvas Technologies has developed the DV3000 for rapid, real-time environmental air monitoring. This patent-protected technology ensures that air pollution can be effectively detected and monitored, allowing protective legislation to be enforced at the earliest opportunity.
The DV3000 offers portable, real-time detection of up to 14 hazardous gases simultaneously at low parts per billion. This includes toxic gases such as Benzene, which is commonly used in products including motor fuels and solvents, and is known to cause long-term health effects.
With growing legislative and public demand for improving air quality, Duvas Technologies are well positioned to impact the outdoor air quality market, which was forecast to reach $ 6.5 billion by 2023. Dr Phillipa Smith, Chief Technical Officer, leads and supports the science team responsible for research and development.
Phillipa’s current goals include developing a technological vision and diversifying the company’s products. Phillipa aims to use the training and networking opportunities gained through the SME Leaders Programme to complement her technical and business skills as she develops a clear strategy for growth as the company scales up.
Oxford Vision and Sensor Technology (OVST) is a University of Oxford spin-out that specialises in the design of 2D and 3D machine vision systems. These are transforming industrial manufacturing processes by allowing robots to recognise and identify objects for automatic operation.
OVST works closely with the automotive industry where high precision is essential at every stage of assembly. Its vision systems combine sophisticated software with innovative sensing technologies for robot guidance. The systems reduce costs and improve quality control by ensuring accurate results are consistently achieved in production.
The company has a strong customer base in the UK and Europe. Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin, Ford, Honda, Ferrari and Maserati are among its customers in the automotive industry. Millions of vehicles have already been glazed by robots guided by the company’s core technology.
Fhon Supmak leads OVST’s commercial and technical strategy. Using training and support through the SME Leaders Programme, Fhon aims to build financial and entrepreneurial skills to guide OVST’s expansion into new international markets. This includes developing innovative products so that OVST remains competitive as it develops work through collaboration with subsidies in China and Thailand.
Advances in robotics are creating new opportunities for automating processes. However, robots lack the dexterity and sensing abilities of humans, making it a challenge for robots to complete many tasks that humans can do.
Wootzano Ltd is an electronics company with a patent-pending process for developing an electronic skin for robots. Known as Wootzkin, the technology enables robots to sense and feel as humans would, allowing robots to easily complete more dextrous jobs.
Wootskin can bend, stretch and twist without damaging its sensor for measuring force, pressure, temperature and humidity. It can be manufactured using standard techniques such as photolithography, stencil film or screen printing to enable micro or nanofabrication on soft materials.
There is a significant market for robotic manipulators that can perform dextrous jobs in the agri-robotics industry. Here, robots can transform agricultural capacity in areas such as picking and sorting fruit and vegetables. The agri-robotics market is currently worth around £1.6 billion and is expected to reach £9.68 billion by 2022.
As the company’s founder, Dr Atif Syed brings extensive expertise in electronics, nanotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence as he leads the company in scaling up manufacturing processes and bringing its first products to market.
Atif is also developing a strategic roadmap for future technological developments, including using Wootzkin for in tyre pressure monitoring and prosthetics. The electronic skin can also be used for robots deployed in extreme conditions, such as the autonomous maintenance and repair of wind turbine blades.
Dr Syed was awarded a 2018 Enterprise Fellowship to support him in scaling up his startup and refining its technology to bring it to market.
Gallium nitride (GaN) has been dubbed the silicon of the future. It has properties that can give it an edge in the market including better energy efficiency, higher power and frequency operation than any other semiconductor material.
However, to make GaN widely available and get it adopted by the semiconductor industry (which is built almost entirely on silicon), there has to be a lower manufacturing cost and improved product performance.
Dr Tongtong Zhu is as a member of the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride, and a co-founder of Porotech. The company, a University of Cambridge spin-out, has developed a new production process to make ‘porous GaN’. Porous GaN is a composite of solid GaN semiconductor and air. The company can create GaN with nanoscopic holes in it, from which it can engineer a wide range of material properties such as optical, mechanical, thermal and electrical. Essentially, it is offering a brand new material platform for semiconductor devices to be built upon.
In April 2020, Porotech closed a £1.5 million seed round investment that will allow it to develop a pilot plant in Cambridge, from which to launch its first products, enable customer validation and evaluation. Its first targeted market is LEDs. The company will supply highly reflective GaN mirror wafers to the epiwafer market - the essential base material to make LED chips - which will reach $2.3 billion by 2021.
Its second market focus will be for high power GaN devices. The company will sell porous strain compliance technology and GaN-on-silicon wafers for the emerging GaN power device market.
Dr Zhu says: “The pilot plant will start with small-scale production to show that our wafers can be made in volume and then potentially produce thousands a year.” Eventually, Porotech could license out its technology.
2018 – Porotech won Cambridge Enterprise’s Postdoc Business Plan Competition 2018
2019 – Porotech won the
gold award of the fifth China “Internet Plus” Innovation and Entrepreneurship
2019 - Dr Tongtong Zhu was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2020 – Closed a £1.5 million seed round investment
Visit their website: www.porotech.co.uk
In a global analysis of all the plastic ever made, the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances estimated that of the 8.3 billion tonnes that has been produced, 6.3 billion tonnes has become plastic waste. With only 9% recycled, the vast majority is accumulating in landfills or in the natural environment as litter. If present trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic in landfills.
Many feel that a circular economy that considers the end destination of what is manufactured would help manage material production responsibly. From buttons to car doors, and spectacles to countertops, the use of sustainable alternatives to petroleum plastics would offer multiple plastic end-of-life scenarios.
Rowan Minkley, is the Co-Founder and CEO of Chip[s] Board. Chip[s] Board is a bioplastic technology company that converts food waste into bioplastics. It currently produces polymers and composites. The composites are natural-fibre reinforced melt blends for applications such as furniture, fashion and consumer electronics.
The company has developed a process to convert waste food by-products into a trademarked bioplastic called Parblex®. The main ingredient for this is upcycled potato scraps, supplied by the global food processing giant McCain Foods. By combining this with natural fibres, biobased composites can be made that are biodegradable and recyclable at the end of their product life. Parblex® is compatible with injection moulding, 3D printing, milling and other industrial processing techniques.
Rowan says: “Many current bioplastics are produced from virgin food crops – such as corn or sugar beet – that are grown specifically to create the materials needed for creating the bioplastic substance. Our philosophy is that a circular economy within waste (by-product) management and material production will create a new sustainable model, utilising the abundant resources we already have rather than continuing to process virgin materials.”
Chip[s] Board’s team is currently looking into the waste stream to find new materials to upcycle and diversify their product lineup.
2017 - Company founded
2018 - Shell LiveWIRE Award, Creative Conscience Award, Santander Entrepreneur of the Year
2018 - Rowan Minkley was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2018 - Rowan won the Launchpad Competition
2018 - McCain secured as a material supplier
2018 - Raised pre-seed Angel investment
2018 - Team expands to five full time staff
2019 - Relocation to Leyton warehouse, 100-litre production line established
2019 - Received Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology SME grant and Knowledge Transfer Network Spark Award
2020 - Team expands to seven full time staff
Visit their website: www.chipsboard.com
In order to detect potential machine failure, oil samples are taken from heavy machinery such as compressors, gear boxes, generators or engines, then analysed by laboratories. By analysing oil samples, owners and operators can tell how well the machinery is performing and when the machinery will break down. Undetected and unsolved lubrication degradation and contamination can lead to early failure of key components, with significant cost implications.
There is a large financial expense associated with sampling, and a risk that the machinery could breakdown before the sample results come back from the laboratory.
RAB-Microfluidics has developed microfluidic ‘lab-on-a-chip technology’ to enable real-time continuous testing and analysis of lubricating oil. Microfluidic technology allows the manipulation of small volumes of fluids to control chemical, biological, and physical processes that can be used for sensing.
The company combines hardware technology with machine-learning that analyses the big data generated from its hardware. This offers customers real-time continuous monitoring, early problem diagnosis, rapid decision-making, enhanced efficiency and cost savings.
Surakat Kudehinbu, Product Engineer of [PS1] RAB-Microfluidics, says: “We will transition businesses from reactive to predictive maintenance strategies with data from our hardware device and our predictive maintenance service.”
The company is focused on commercialising the technology, with paid pilot trials helping develop an understanding of the commercialisation requirements of the technology in target markets, with a specific focus on the maritime and wind sectors.
RAB-Microfluidics estimate that its technology can reduce maintenance costs by 25% to 30% and can lead to a reduction in downtime caused by break downs and maintenance by 35% to 45%. It is aiming for its first sale in the first quarter of 2021.
Surakat says that the Enterprise Fellowship programme has helped the company in a number of ways: “It’s given us access to high-level insightful industrial knowledge, has helped up develop appropriate business models for our market segments, and brought us closer to commercialisation.”
2017 – Energy Technology Partnership grant
2017 – Oil and Gas Innovation Centre Grant
2017 – UKRI Innovate UK Grants (Materials and Manufacturing – Round 3 )
2017 – UKRI Innovate UK Grants (Infrastructure systems - Round 3)
2018 – OGTC Tech X –BP technology prize
2018 – Scottish Edge award
2018 – Scottish Enterprise High Growth Ventures Programme
2019 – Surakat Kudehinbu was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship (1851 Royal Commission)
Visit their website: www.rab-microfluidics.co.uk
The analysis of proteins and small molecules for drug research and manufacturing involves slow and expensive testing. New processes that could speed up and enable high-sensitivity testing are needed.
Dr Ruizhi Wang’s expertise lies in the large-scale manufacturing of 2D materials – aka single-layer materials. He is a co-founder of The Hofmann Group spin out, HexagonFab. The company is using 2D crystalline materials to develop biosensors for medical applications.
The first sensor it has produced, called HelloProtein, will give drug development researchers the ability to characterise proteins and understand biomolecular interactions through a handheld device. The company says it is both faster and more reasonably priced than rivals operating in the same field.
Before HexagonFab, low-cost and large-scale
manufacturing of high-quality graphene was not possible. Only small amounts –
enough for research – were being made. The company’s ability to fabricate at
commercial-scale using chemical vapour deposition, along with related
atomically-thin materials, means that it can focus on generating very sensitive
and fast sensors.
HelloProtein is a field-effect transistor (FET) biosensor driven by graphene. Changes in the electrical charges in its environment affect the electrical properties of the graphene layer. This enables it to detect minute electrical charge changes allowing the detection of biomolecule-binding with high precision.
Dr Wang believes that such bioFET sensors could have a variety of other applications in the fields of medical diagnostics and industrial monitoring. The global market for drug development equipment is huge and by mid-2020 the company had already made £35,000 of sales.
2018 HexagonFab founded
2018 Merck’s Displaying Futures Award ($50,000 financial backing plus collaboration)
2018 Winner of Materials and Enabling Technologies category of Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies
2019 InnovateUK grant
2020 AMS corporate challenge winner
2020 First product sales
Visit their website: www.hexagonfab.com
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.