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.
Michael Korn came up with the idea for portable, retractable screen dividers after observing the problems that medical staff and patients face in hospitals. His research uncovered a need for more side room capacity, providing extra private and segregated spaces. Using a new glass fibre composite, Michael developed portable, retractable partitions that can swiftly turn any open-plan ward into smaller, more discreet and isolated spaces.
KwickScreens can also be printed with views of nature or artistic patterns. It was this difference from traditional hospital curtains that helped provide early success. A new breastfeeding mother appreciated being alone with her baby surrounded by calming colours. A grieving family was able to spend the last few days with their loved one in a secluded environment.
The KwickScreen enabled a patient space to be swiftly created anywhere. It could also act as an isolation room for immunosuppressed or infectious patients who might otherwise be in an open ward at risk of contracting or spreading healthcare acquired infections.
Michael founded KwickScreen in 2008. By 2020, over 100 NHS Trusts were using his partitions in critical care units, theatres, recovery wards and maternity units. The hygienic and easy-to-clean screens really came into their own during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, KwickScreens have been supporting the NHS and it was partly for this reason that Michael joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021.
Michael says “I need to make sure that I grow, in order to stay ahead of the company’s rapid expansion! I believe the programme will help establish valuable external connections and potential partnerships. Most importantly it will help me develop as a business leader, enabling us to get new ambitious projects off the ground capitalising on the exciting opportunities ahead of us.”
In two years, the KwickScreen company has increased its revenue from £1 million a year to over £6 million. It is now well placed to replace medical curtains in North America, Japan and Europe. Originally developed for hospital and healthcare environments, it is now also being used in public and work spaces.
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
Director of Innovation, Footfalls and Heartbeats
Footfalls and Heartbeats is a start-up developing smart textiles for use in a wide range of industries. Its innovative solutions integrate sensing systems into fabrics to create intelligent wearables that are comfortable and durable. One of the start-up’s first products is a pressure-responsive bandage for use in the treatment of venous leg ulcers (VLUs).
VLUs affect approximately 3% of the global adult population causing pain, swelling and reduced mobility. Compression therapy is the recommended treatment but its effectiveness is limited by lack of awareness and patient discomfort both of which lead to poor compliance. Footfalls and Heartbeats’ solution is a customised bandage with embedded sensors that allow responsive, real-time pressure monitoring. This can improve treatment of VLUs by helping to ensure that the correct pressure is applied during compression therapy. A wearable method to do this currently does not exist.
Director of Innovation, Fern Kelly, leads in developing the start-up’s product innovation pipeline which involves end-to-end strategic planning as its technologies are customised for commercialisation. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme, Fern aims to strengthen skills in leadership and negotiation to help with establishing the commercial partnerships needed for Footfalls and Heartbeats to brings its first products to market.
Visit Footfalls & Heartbeat's website here.
Open surgery is the current standard for preparing patients for dialysis and bypassing blocked peripheral arteries. High failure rates (approximately 50%) in both cases present a serious danger to life and require repeat procedures, for US dialysis patients alone this adds up to $4.6 billion per year.
Sorin Popa, founder of Pathfinder Medical, developed an electronic catheter guidance system that enables clinicians to connect blood vessels in a minimally invasive way, eliminating the need for open surgery and improving outcomes for vascular procedures. This technology has the potential to reduce the cost and trauma associated with procedures to treat those with renal failure and peripheral arterial disease.
Worldwide 3.4 million patients have end stage kidney disease and require their blood to be routinely filtered externally through haemodialysis.
This requires surgery to open up the arm and prepare patients’ blood vessels by forming a connection between an artery and a vein (known as a fistula or vascular access site). Pathfinder Medical’s catheter system can be used to connect blood vessels using a small covered tube known as a ‘stent graft’.
This technology enables patients to receive kidney dialysis without surgery. It can also be used to bypass blocked vessels for those with peripheral arterial disease which affects over 200 million patients globally.
The technology improves outcomes for patients by reducing stress, discomfort and the risk of vascular access problems. It brings cost saving to healthcare providers by improving the efficiency of procedures and reducing the likelihood of costly repeat procedures.
The global market for the technology is worth over £3.8 billion annually. In the UK, the solution could save the NHS an estimated £45 million per annum on kidney dialysis alone.
A 2016 Enterprise Fellowship was awarded to Sorin to support the growth of his start-up as it trials its technology in preparation for commercialisation.
Drones can be used to significantly reduce time, cost and risk of structural surveying and inspection, but they generate large quantities of image-related data that can be costly and resource-intensive to process.
TRIK has developed software that makes drone use for surveying and inspection more accessible. It takes photos and videos captured by drones and automatically turns them into an interactive 3D model that acts as a twin of the real structure.
The technology opens up new possibilities for engineers to visualise sites and structures. Its interactive 3D models can be used to generate insights and also double as a database. They can be used for fast and efficient search, measurement, analysis and comment without the need to visit the actual structure.
It can make drone photography more efficient with processes for auto-tagging images and mapping changes across time. This supports surveyors, asset managers and engineers by making it easier to detect structural changes, predict failure, evaluate risk and maintain sites.
Drone-related services are projected to grow dramatically in the next five years. For example, growth for drone software in asset monitoring and inspection is predicted to reach $7.5 billion by 2022.
Led by Dr Pae Natwilai Utoomprurkporn, an innovator selected
for the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Industry list in 2018, TRIK is working with
companies to scale its systems and impact the global market for drone software.
It aims to achieve this by making drone survey and inspection more accessible,
without the need for significant technical expertise.
Pae was awarded a 2018 Enterprise Fellowship to support her in bringing TRIK’s solutions to market. TRIK is also funded by Zoopla founder, Alex Chesterman, and LoveFilm founder, Simon Franks.
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.”
Mixergy Ltd, a University of Oxford spin-out, has developed an internet-connected, smart hot water tank that gives users greater control and oversight over their water heating systems. Traditional water cylinders heat up all the water within, or none, like a giant kettle. Mixergy’s tanks use thermal stratification and an innovative heating arrangement to heat the water from top down. That way, consumers can selectively heat different volumes of water and save 5% to 20% on their hot water bills.
Mixergy’s top-up technology enables hot water to be delivered up to five times faster than conventional cylinders. In addition, by having internet connectivity and an artificial intelligence algorithm running on the Mixergy cloud platform, customers can better utilise time-of-use tariffs and use the unit’s app as a smart remote control.
Ren Kang co-founded Mixergy in 2014 and is its Head of Research. He joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and is looking forward to it helping him “transition from being the company’s technical director to being its industrial leader. By better-planning Mixergy’s product development, I will be able to prepare it for future energy challenges and opportunities.”
Since its inception, the Mixergy team has grown to 21 staff and built strong relationships with British Gas, a major installer of tanks. In 2020, Mixergy raised £3.6 million in a Series A funding round. This has allowed Mixergy to gain further commercial traction in UK and European markets.
Sensor Coating Systems(SCS) has developed a thermal mapping method using temperature memory materials. Its luminescent paints and coatings generate an afterglow on materials when light is shone on them. After calibration, an operator can work out a material’s temperature-history (how hot it became in the past) from the afterglow. When applied on engine components as a paint or a coating, it provides engine designers with thousands of digitised temperature points that can assist in the development of more efficient and cleaner engines, with less CO2 emissions.
SCS has patented the technology and created an intellectual property portfolio covering specialised instrumentation, automation and digitisation know-how. The high-resolution temperature data generated from SCS systems can shorten months of engine development time into just a few weeks.
Dr Jörg Feist is co-founder, co-inventor and Managing Director of SCS. Jörg joined the SME Leaders Programme in 2021. He says “the programme will help to address the company’s growth risks as SCS plans to double in size in the next two years, both in terms of revenue and headcount. The mentoring scheme will provide an external view on the business and the scholarship programme will enable me to attend courses at leading business schools to customise our growth journey.”
The ability of SCS’s award-winning technology to provide thousands of measurement points on a single component is ground-breaking. Its potential market is wide-ranging, as the technology can be used for gas turbines, aviation, automotive, fuel cells or high-value manufacturing.
TG0 has developed a new technology for interactive 3D controls, which enables them to be both intuitive and ergonomic. Most electronic products and dashboards have individual on/off buttons as well as multiple sensors and parts. TG0 has replaced these multi-part electronic interfaces with one flexible touch-sensitive material that works with AI-based algorithms.
Using machine learning and advanced signal processing technology, the company has created a sensing method that can detect touch interactions such as pressure, location, direction, speed and movement on uniform large surfaces. The resulting material technology can be used in tactile gaming controls, car dashboard controls and ergonomic computer accessories such as keyboards.
Dr Liucheng Guo is the Co-Founder and CTO of TG0. He became an SME Leader in 2019 and says that the programme has benefited the company in a number of ways. “Thanks to the leadership training and mentoring, I have rethought and realigned our technical strategies with business requirements. The networking has been especially productive, as it found us a collaborator who has helped secure an InnovateUK funding.”
Now, TG0 is selling directly to consumers. The company has developed a new VR controller called etee, which it launched on Kickstarter. The lightweight device fits onto a person’s fingers and manoeuvres around the VR environment through touch, proximity, pressure and gestures. It can be used for both gaming and medical applications.
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.
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 Roger Benson FREng retired from full-time employment 2003. Since retiring he has been a part time consultant in world-class performance, working with the NDA and other organisations. In addition he has been a Chairman/Director of four university spin-out companies: PAROS (failed), Perceptive Engineering Ltd (recently sold), Industrial Tomography Systems (slow growth) and TDL Sensors Ltd (sold). When requested he is also an assessor for Innovate UK, EPSRC and EU projects.
Roger has been a judge for the UK Best Factory Awards for over 20 years. During that period he has visited and benchmarked over 200 of the best UK manufacturing plants across all industries.
Over a 35-year industrial career Roger worked for ICI. Positions included Chief Engineer of ICI Engineering Technology and Head of the Global Control / Electrical Function. He created and managed the ICI internal Manufacturing Technology capability. In 1993 he was seconded to the DTI Innovation Unit for two years where he coordinated and published the Winning Report. For the last four years of his career he was acquired by ABB where he was the Global Technology Programmes for ABB Analytics and Advanced Solutions, and an Executive member of ABB Process Solutions.
In 1999 he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He has published over 80 papers, and given many presentations on innovation, process control, benchmarking, world-class manufacturing and the future of the Process Industries. In 1999 Roger wrote and published the Institution of Chemical Engineers book, Benchmarking Process Manufacturing. It is still the only book on the subject. He has been a Visiting Professor to three UK universities.
Professor Clive Buckberry FREng is the Chief Engineer and Technology Officer of Quanta Dialysis Technologies, a company that provides dialysis systems for renal patients. He has been in the role since Quanta was established in 2008, was a co-founder and has been an integral part of the original team that has since raised over £110 million in venture capital funding following its launch.
Clive has a broad remit to direct and influence technology development and its implementation within Quanta. He has also had direct responsibility for the clinical evaluation and regulatory strategy of the haemodialysis machine, and the engineering development of the extracorporeal pathway and currently leads a team of over 50 engineers.
Previously Clive worked for the BMW group with responsibility for the vehicle physics department. In 2001, he became an honorary professor within the Department of Engineering and Physics at Heriot-Watt University and in 2011 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Professor David Cebon FREng is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Cambridge and Director of the Cambridge Vehicle Dynamics Consortium and the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight. He also leads the engineering department’s Transport Research Group and its research theme 'Energy, Transport and Urban Infrastructure'. His research covers the mechanical, civil, and materials aspects of road transport engineering.
He has authored or co-authored more than 200 papers on dynamic loads of heavy vehicles, road and bridge response and damage, advanced suspension design for heavy vehicles, heavy vehicle safety and mobility, heavy vehicle energy consumption and decarbonisation, and the micromechanics of asphalt deformation and fracture.
In 1994 David co-founded Granta Design Ltd, the world’s leading provider of materials information technology, with Professor Mike Ashby CBE FREng FRS. David led the company as its managing director until 2019, when it was acquired by Ansys Inc. He is now the Chief Materials Technologist at Ansys.
David was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2005.
"I lead an active research group concerned with the design and dynamics of heavy vehicle suspensions, road damage and the micromechanics of asphalt failure. I also have interests in the use of computers in engineering design and education."
Dr Supti Sarkar leads the Technology and Investments Group at PwC. She is responsible for the commercialisation of new tech ventures across the firm, and works with in-house entrepreneurs to get their products market ready.
Supti was formally a management consultant at PA Consulting, where she worked with international and regional governments to support their trade and investment strategies. She was also part of Mayor Sadiq Khan's 2016 delegation to Chicago and New York as part of her role in supporting high growth companies entering the US market for the first time. Supti holds a first class degree and PhD in engineering from University College London and is mum to an eight-year-old daughter.
Dr Douglas C Anderson OBE FREng FRSE has a 40-year business career covering almost every aspect, at every level, of healthcare technology product design and product commercialisation processes.
Having trained in industrial design engineering (Edinburgh Napier University 1974), Douglas progressed from hands on designer to the management of design in the high-tech arena.
Using his consulting company Crombie Anderson as a base for innovation and incubation, he subsequently spun out three other high-tech startup companies, two of which became publicly traded business operating in medical fields.
Douglas was the prime mover in these businesses by leading both the innovation and commercialisation processes, including raising over £40 million in private and institutional funding prior to floatation. Today he is internationally recognised for his innovation and entrepreneurial experience and is a regular keynote speaker at healthcare and business congresses around the world.
In 1990, his five-year-old son Leif suffered a spontaneous retinal detachment that went undetected until it was too late to treat. Douglas was struck by the limited capability of diagnostic tools available to practitioners to examine the retina and decided to address this issue. He built a dedicated research team, which led to the formation of Optos plc, a business funded by Archangel from the outset.
Optos succeeded in designing and patenting a scanning laser ophthalmoscope: the world's first ophthalmic device that enabled eye care professionals to capture a digital ultra wide-field image of the almost the entire retina in a single scan. The new method of examining the retina, marketed as the optomap® Retinal Exam, is now offered as the preferred standard of care by tens of thousands of eye-care specialists globally. Over 200 million optomap® retinal exams have been conducted worldwide and a number of novel diagnostic techniques added to improve the understanding and treatment of a wider range of conditions that have been historically difficult to manage.
In 2006 Douglas was awarded an OBE for services to healthcare. Douglas was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2013.
David is an investor and CEO with companies based on technology and innovation.
After a degree in electrical engineering at the Technion and an MBA from INSEAD, David worked his way to senior management and board level in a wide range of sectors including sustainability, construction, life sciences, manufacturing, mobile telephony, cyber security and software. His broad experience ranges from startups to public companies, from turnaround missions and crisis management to business development and growth.
David is deeply involved in the UK startup space, as a member of UKBAA, VCs, EIS funds and university angel groups, and is an active mentor with the Royal Academy of Engineering and Imperial College London’s IVMS programme. He also serves as a non-executive on the board of directors of Kerur Holdings (a public company), the board of governors of the Technion, as an advisor with the US accelerator Silicon Catalyst and the board of trustees of Hadassah UK.
He believes that success comes from a culture of excellence, a multidisciplinary approach, and that the boundaries between B2B/B2C and startups/LargeCo are increasingly blurred.
"Startups challenge and can defeat established companies. An explosion of new technologies will accelerate this trend. Large companies cannot afford to be on the defensive, they must proactively adopt a startup culture. But startups must also learn to be humble and pragmatic, build structures, communicate at a senior level, and strive to serve all their stakeholders, clients, staff, investors, and society as a whole. A fusion of cultures is now pivotal to success."
Richard joined sustainability investment focused Earth Capital Group in 2009 and has worked both on the group’s investment in investment managers and direct growth company investments, including most recently the fund’s investments in SoftIron and Propelair. He takes a leading role in promoting technology transfer opportunities across the group’s international offices.
Prior to joining Earth Capital, Richard was an Investment Director with IBIS Asset Management Ltd, a London-based captive advisor to a large Caribbean conglomerate. Richard was earlier a senior manager in the London office of L.E.K. Consulting, a global strategy consultancy. During his five years with LEK he provided due diligence advice, in numerous large cap and mid-market private equity deals, and advised corporate clients on corporate strategy, business unit growth strategy, process redesign and cost reduction programmes.
A chartered engineer, his early career included successful engineering, operations and customer support management roles with Ford Motor Company and Visteon Corporation. Richard holds an MBA with Distinction from INSEAD and MEng and MA (First Class) degrees in engineering from the University of Cambridge. He is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment, and a Chartered Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology and a Sainsbury Management Fellow.
Dr Andrew Hosty FREng is an international leader with over 15 years of non-executive board experience and 30 years of executive and management experience, spanning private equity, UK Plc and global blue-chip corporates. He is non-executive director of a companies including: RHI-Magnesita, the global leader in the manufacture and supply of refractories; James Cropper Plc, who create some of the world’s most distinctive and technically advanced paper products; and Rights and Issues Investment Trust Plc, a fund that focuses on small cap UK industrials.
Andrew is Non-Executive Chairman of mOm Incubators ltd, a pre-revenue startup developing low-cost baby incubators for crisis zones. He is also Non-Executive Chairman of Nexeon ltd, a company developing next-generation cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries. From 2016 to 2018 Andrew was the CEO of the Sir Henry Royce Institute, the UK's home of advanced materials research and innovation. He was Chief Operating Officer of Morgan Advanced Materials, and served on the Plc Board as an Executive Director from 2010 to 2016.
From 2013 to 2016 he served on the board
of Consort Medical Plc, a healthcare company focused on developing advanced
delivery technologies, formulation and manufacturing solutions for drugs. He is
a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, holds a PhD from the Faculty of
Engineering at the University of Sheffield and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy
of Engineering (2011).