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.
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.