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.
Iain is currently a non-executive director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of Premier Oil plc, a FTSE 250 global oil and gas company. He also serves as a Trustee Director and Chair of the Finance Committee for The Workforce Development trust Ltd. Until April 2020 he was also a non-executive director and Chairman of the Audit Committee at SUEK Ltd, Russia’s largest coal producer. Prior to his portfolio activities, Iain was Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Fairfield Energy Ltd, a North Sea oil and gas company, where he oversaw all finance-related activities of the private equity backed organisation, including a potential IPO and a merger.
Iain also spent 30 years at BP, firstly as an engineer and project manager, where he was instrumental in developing technology licensing sales and projects in Asia. He then spent 10 years running various technology-led chemicals businesses, and the Prudhoe Bay oil field operations in Alaska, before being appointed a Group Vice President and holding roles as Head of Group Planning, Group Controller, and lastly Deputy Group CFO. He led the centralisation of the finance function of BP during this time, and its standardisation of processes and practices following the company’s significant merger and acquisition activity in the late 1990s.
Iain is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, a chartered engineer, and has an engineering degree from University College London. He also attended the Executive Education programme at Harvard Business School, and lives close to London, UK.
Paul Taylor FREng has led the delivery of some of the most demanding national security programmes in the UK, operating at the very highest levels of government. He is uniquely qualified to understand the evolving threat environment, as well as having an exceptional track record of driving and delivering change in complex organisations. Paul’s contribution to the world of science technology was recognised by his election as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2013, where he now sits on its Engineering Policy Committee.
Paul is Deputy Managing Director at AWE plc, where he is responsible for providing the AWE Board and UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) with assurance of delivery of the £1 billion per annum nuclear warhead programme. Prior to this, he was Director General of Technology and Chief Information Officer in a central government department, where he was a member of both ExCo and the main board.
He held the position of Director General of Strategic Technologies and then Director General of Equipment in MOD, and Senior Responsible Owner for the UK’s Future Nuclear Deterrent. Paul was the first Chief Executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL). The post carried responsibility for all elements of defence research and the 3,000 staff that were retained within government following the split of MOD R&D activities into QinetiQ and DSTL.
A member of several government technical advisory committees, Paul also chairs the Advisory Board of the Imperial College Institute of Security Science and Technology. He is currently advising and exercising several global retail and investment banks at board level, helping to address their cyber and information protection challenges. Paul sits on a number of bank board risk committee advisory panels.
Scientist and entrepreneur Dr Graeme Malcolm is CEO and founder of the multi-award-winning photonics and quantum technology company, M Squared. M Squared is headquartered in the UK with offices globally and is one of the UK's most innovative and disruptive technology businesses, well-known for creating the world's purest light.
Graeme finds technological and entrepreneurial solutions to some of society's greatest problems from improving healthcare to halting climate change. He's a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, The Royal Society Edinburgh, and The Institute of Physics and his achievements include an OBE for his services to Science and Innovation, The Swan Medal from the Institute of Physics, and Entrepreneur of the Year at the Amazon Growing Business Awards.
Professor Roger Whatmore FREng’s main research interests and expertise are in the field of functional materials, particularly ferroelectrics, multiferroics and their applications.
After receiving a first class honours from the University of Cambridge, he carried out his PhD research at the Cavendish Laboratory, subsequently joining Plessey Research at Caswell in 1976. In 1993 he led the team that won the Prince of Wales Award for Innovation for the development of a wearable thermal imager for firefighters. GEC recognised his contributions through the award of their Nelson Gold Medal in the same year. The technology underpinning this formed the basis of a very successful company, Infrared Integrated Systems Ltd.
In 1994, he moved to Cranfield University, as the Royal Academy of Engineering Professor of Engineering Nanotechnology, where he established a team applying ferroelectric materials to the areas of microsystems and nanotechnology, and becoming Head of Advanced Materials.
In January 2006, he took up the post of CEO at the Tyndall National Institute, part of University College Cork, Ireland, which is internationally respected for the high quality research in the areas of photonics, micro-nanoelectronics, electronic systems, functional materials and nanotechnology, underpinned by excellence in theoretical modelling and design. Under his direction the influence, financial status and academic status of Tyndall increased dramatically and a Science Foundation Ireland instigated international review body concluded that “Tyndall is an indispensable national resource”. He retired as Tyndall’s CEO in 2012 and was made an Emeritus Professor of University College Cork. In 2014, he became a Principal Research Fellow in the Department of Materials, Imperial College London.
Professor Whatmore is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, who awarded him the Griffith Medal and Prize for excellence in materials science in 2003 and their premier award, the Platinum Medal, in 2019. He is a Member of the IEEE, serving on FerroCom and was awarded the IEEE Ferroelectrics Recognition Award in 2019.
Dr Robert Sansom FREng is an experienced angel investor and mentor to technology-based startup businesses in the UK and US.
He is the founder of the Cambridge Angels, a group of expert technology and biotechnology entrepreneurs who invest in and mentor technology startups across the UK.
Robert serves on the board of several startups including Arachnys Information Services, Cambridge Communication Systems, CRFS, Featurespace, IQGeo plc, Myrtle Software, and Netronome Systems. Prior to becoming an angel investor, he co-founded FORE Systems, a leader in high-speed data communications, where he was Chief Technical Officer. Fore Systems went public on NASDAQ in 1994 and was sold to Marconi plc in 1999.
Robert was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2010.
“Through my career I’ve built up considerable experience taking knowledge-based technology business from initial idea through to becoming successful businesses. I’d like to help a new generation of technology entrepreneurs do the same, and the Enterprise Hub is an excellent platform for me to do this.”
Professor David Lane CBE FREng FRSE is a passionate scientist, innovator, educator and personal investor in the twin disciplines of robotics and AI. A founding startup-to-scaleup award-winning CEO (http://www.seebyte.com Edinburgh, San Diego), he is chairman or non-executive director of five businesses and one fund in UK, Norway, Hong Kong with experience in EdTech, healthcare, manufacturing, offshore energy, defence and food.
As Founding Director he co-created the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and National Robotarium, a £120 million research and translation hub at Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh universities with more than 150 staff and PhD students. He is Principle Investigator in the EPSRC ISCF/Industry ORCA Hub developing advanced robotics for offshore energy asset integrity management from the science base in Edinburgh, Oxford, Imperial College and Liverpool. He has published more than 300 peer reviewed papers in engineering advanced cognition, sensing and bio-inspiration into unmanned systems, featuring digital twin simulation and emulation technology as core for innovation and translation.
His entrepreneurship has been recognized through the 2011 Praxis Unico Business Impact Achieved Award, the 2013 Scottish Digital Technology Award for International Growth, the 2018 Guardian University Business Collaboration Award and the 2019 Scottish Knowledge Exchange Champion Award.
He is co-chair of the UK Government Robotics Growth Partnership appointed by the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation and a member of the UK AI Council. He led the 2014 UK RAS2020 Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy generating over £500 million of UK government and industry support, which led to 10 £250 million VC investments into UK robotics businesses in 2017/18. Previously he was Board member of EURobotics (2014-16) and General Chair of the 2017 EU Robotics Forum bringing 800 European Roboticists to Edinburgh.
Dr Martin Grant FREng was the Chief Executive Officer of Atkins’ Energy business for 10 years until 2018.
With a career spanning over thirty years in the energy sector, Martin is a Fellow and Trustee of the Royal Academy of Engineering and has been recognised with a Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal for his work on safety in the oil and gas industry.
His career now involves non-executive director and advisory work.
For Martin, engineers are the key to a better future. "If we can attract and retain skilled engineers as well as encourage a more diverse workforce, we can accomplish great things, not only for the energy sector but for engineering and therefore the world at large.
"It doesn’t get much more important than the quest for secure, affordable energy that is safer, cleaner and smarter, for both the immediate and the longer term."
Professor Bill O’Riordan FREng was previously Chief Scientist and Head of Research of ICL/FUJITSU and Chairman of the ECRC (European Computer Research Centre) in Munich.
Bill was an advisor to two international governments on science and technology strategies. He has also had many advisory roles to the European Commission on Science and Technology initiatives especially around biocomputing.
He is currently interested in drone swarms, the security of embedded controllers in scientific and engineering systems, and he is an advisor to several tech startups. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1998.
Dr John Lazar CBE FREng is a software engineer and business leader with a strong focus on combining technology and entrepreneurship to try to generate lasting positive impact. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (2011), and serves on the Academy’s International Committee. For the last four years, he has been a judge and mentor on the Academy’s flagship Africa programme, the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, which supports 15 early-stage African engineering companies annually.
John has also spent many years working on tech-related non-profit initiatives in Africa, which included an eight-year stint as a trustee of the charity TechforTrade, developing a number of ‘digital blacksmiths’ in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2019, he co-launched Enza Capital, which invests in early stage African technology companies that solve pressing problems.
He has also been an active angel investor and technology startup mentor in the UK, with more than 40 individual pre-seed/seed investments. He is Chairman of What3Words and KindLink.
In 2016, he stepped down as Chairman and CEO of Metaswitch Networks, a leading provider of communications software. He joined Metaswitch in 1987 as a software engineer, and worked across software design and engineering, customer support, product strategy and revenue generation - culminating in promotion to CEO.
John graduated from the University of Oxford
with an MSc in computation and a DPhil in politics, having completed his
undergraduate degree in computer science at the University of the Witwatersrand
in Johannesburg. He is also a Fellow of
the BCS, the UK’s chartered institute for IT.
He was awarded a CBE for services to engineering in the Queen’s Birthday
Honours in 2016.