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.
David Gammon founded Rockspring in 2002 after 17 years of investment banking experience.
Rockspring provides advice and capital to disruptive technology companies from seed through scale up. His family are the benefactors of the JC Gammon Launchpad Award run by the Enterprise Hub.
David is a non-executive director at Raspberry Pi
Trading Limited, Accesso Technology Group plc and Frontier Developments plc. He is on the Advisory Boards to IQ Capital Partners LLP and
Thought Machine Limited. He is a member of the Scale Up Institute.
Eric is Professor of Micro-Engineering at Imperial College London. He is the Co-founder and Non-executive Director of Microsaic Systems plc, which develops and markets miniature mass spectrometers. During Eric’s period as Chairman of Microsaic Systems, the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange.
He has overseen more than 20 research projects which have raised a combined £14million in research funds. Eric has also been a technical advisory board member to two venture capital funds.
Eric was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal in 2011 for his research into micro-engineered devices and their commercial exploitation. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2012.
“(My mentee) James’ work has excellent potential, both technically and commercially. There is a clear market need for such a system to improve safety in the nuclear industry, and I look forward to helping him to succeed in getting it to market through the Enterprise Hub programme.”
Chris has a first class degree in Computer Science from Cambridge University where he is now an honorary fellow at Churchill college. He co-founded leading network technology provider Metaswitch Networks and spent many years as the company's Chief Technology Officer.
He is now an active early stage investor, sits on the board of several UK technology start ups and is a Venture Partner at Entrepreneur First. Being blind himself, he is a patron or trustee of three different charities in the sight loss sector. He is also a trustee of The Raspberry Pi Foundation.
Chris was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2014 by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace for his services to engineering. He was elected to the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2006.
Professor Norman Apsley OBE FREng recently retired from 18 years as founding Chief Executive of Catalyst Inc (formerly Northern Ireland Science Park), steering the organisation from idea to reality. The NI Science Park was a key first step to transform the near derelict H&W shipyard into the innovation district for Belfast. He had spent the previous two decades at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (now QinetiQ Malvern), where he had researched a wide variety of microwave and optical devices, publishing some 70 scientific papers and patents during his scientific career. He joined management in 1990, rising to Director Electronics and Site Director for the Malvern cluster in the then Defence Research and Evaluation Agency by 1995.
In 2011, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, just as he finished his term as Vice-President (Business and Innovation) of the Institute of Physics. He has been an active Enterprise Committee member from the beginning and continues to contribute to its various programmes as reviewer, mentor and on steering groups, most lately the SME Leaders’ Award.
Norman also supports the international work of the Academy. In 2018, he became Chair of the Academy’s Newton-funded project, Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF), which works in all 16 Newton Fund countries. Alongside in-country partners, LIF helps innovators with technology to tackle their country’s sustainable development goals launch startups. Over the past few years, LIf fellows have been built into a thousand strong, peer-to-peer support group across the world.
At home, Norman chairs the Local Economic Development Company serving South and East Antrim and consults occasionally for both public and private sector. In 2012, Norman was awarded an OBE for his contributions to science and economic development. In 2019, the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (Econ Sci) was conferred by Queens University Belfast. In the same year, he was awarded the Max Rainey Medal for service to the Polymer Industry of Northern Ireland. He is looking forward to Belfast becoming the first (of many) spokes to the Enterprise Hub.
"(Engineering) entrepreneurs are typically rich with ideas, energy and enthusiasm but cash poor. They cannot afford the quality help they need to find the right business model for their idea, discovery or invention. Pro Bono support from Fellows from their experience and from their “black books” helps speed the process and leads to increased innovation.”
David Hawkes is currently the Director of the Centre for Medical Image Computing at UCL. He was previously Director of the EPSRC and MRC-funded Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration on Medical Images and Signals (MIAS-IRC) that was an £8million six year programme. David also served as Chairman of the Division of Imaging Sciences at KCL (2002-2004).
He spent 10 years working as a clinical scientist within the NHS before returning to academia. He is co-Founder of IXICO Ltd. (www.ixico.com), a university spin-out that provides imaging solutions to the pharmaceutical industry.
David's current research interests encompass image matching, data fusion, visualisation, shape representation, surface geometry and modelling tissue deformation. He continues to work promoting medical imaging as an accurate measurement tool and the use of image-guided interventions.
Professor Hawkes was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2003.
Professor Daniel McCaughan OBE FREng is a former industrial executive who has held senior management and board-level positions in the electronics, telecommunications and defence industries since the early 1970s. He was a partner in two VC Groups, Chief Scientist of Bell Northern Research/Nortel Technology, Technical Director of GEC’s Electronic Devices group of companies, President of CDT Ltd, a Senior Principal at RSRE, Malvern and a Member of Bell Labs Technical Staff. He is an Emeritus Partner of the leading Irish Venture Capital fund Kernel Capital Partners.
He chaired the former Technology Board for Northern Ireland (a predecessor of InvestNI), was a member of the main board of DHSSPS, the Northern Ireland Health Service, co-chaired the UK Home Office Science Advisory Committee with the Permanent Secretary, and chaired UK Foresight in IT, Comms and Media and was an Honorary Professor of Queen’s University Belfast.
Daniel has a wide range of experience in technology-based businesses thanks to his career at high executive level in Venture Capital, large and small companies, government departments and universities. This background provides him with unique skills as he has dealt with a wide variety of customers and led major technical projects from component to system level, with insight into the evaluation of technical product plans and projects, company business planning and development, preparation of companies for investment, and Venture Capital.
Dr McCaughan has doctorates in both physics and engineering, has been awarded numerous patents and has published over 100 papers and book chapters in both technical and managerial subjects. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1992 and the Irish Academy of Engineering in 1994.
John Harris Robinson CBE FREng is currently Chairman of MHA (Methodist Homes), Rheon Labs Ltd and Hull Minster Development Trust. He is Director of Entia Ltd, Trustee at Livability and former Chairman/Chief Executive of Smith & Nephew plc. Additional former chair positions include The Abbeyfield Society, Railtrack plc, George Wimpey plc, Low and Bonar plc, UK Coal plc, Voyage Ltd and several companies in the care sector.
John has been elected to positions including President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers and the Chartered Institute of Management, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the University of Hull Governing Council and a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Engineers. He has been a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering since his election in 1998.
Professor John Banyard OBE FREng is currently Chair of the Water Informatics, Science and Engineering CDT advisory board, the Forum for Infrastructure Conditions of Contract and the Civil Engineering Standard Method of Measurement Panel, where he provides guidance on strategic development, direction and future sustainability.
He joined Severn Trent Water on its foundation in 1974 and held several senior roles until his retirement in December 2004. He has served as a director of Severn Trent plc and Severn Trent Water Ltd, and was a non-executive director of the North American subsidiary together with a number of other non-executive positions. He served as: board member of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland; Chairman of the West Midlands Innovation and Technology Council; Chairman of the Development Forum for the Infrastructure Conditions of Contract; Chairman of the Civil Engineering Standard Method of Management Panel; and is a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Engineers. He also works as an independent consultant.
John is a chartered civil engineer and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1997. He was made a Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute in 2000 and awarded an OBE for services to engineering and the water industry in December 2004.
Christopher is Professor of Biotechnology and Director of the Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences at the University of Cambridge.
His main research interests cover areas of healthcare biotechnology including biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics and sensors, ageing and medical microbiology. The work is highly multi-disciplinary, encompassing biochemistry, microbiology, chemistry, electrochemistry, physics, electronics, medicine and chemical engineering, but also covering the entire range from pure science to strategic applied science, much of which has significant commercial applications.
He has carried out research in the area of biosensors, biopharmaceuticals, and enzyme, protein and microbial technology.
Professor Lowe has been the driving force for the establishment of 11 spin-out companies with a current market capitalisation of well over $1.5 billion, and has been awarded numerous national and international prizes and distinctions. His research has been recognised by over 20 major national and international awards. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (2005) and is also a Fellow at Trinity College.
"I vowed to take matters into my own hands and exploit technologies developed in my own laboratories myself. I have unique experience of this approach in the UK and hence my title, the Most Entrepreneurial Scientist of the UK.”