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.
Professor Jon Cooper FREng FRSE holds the Wolfson Chair of Bioengineering (Biomedical Engineering) and is an Emeritus Vice Principal. He has been involved as an academic founder of three spin-out companies in the fields of medical diagnostics, drug delivery and new medicines discovery. His research group is currently looking at using phononic structures to shape how sound interacts with fluids.
Applications are in varying stages of development and include ‘silent’ underwater motors; new diagnostics for infectious diseases; sample processing for next generation gene sequencing tools; and targeted drug delivery. Jon was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2001 and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2004.
"Focus above all else on excellence – whether this be in publications, knowledge exchange & innovation, teaching or supervision. Try to do one thing really well."
Professor Nicholas Medcalf FREng has worked for Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, since 2017. He is the Deputy Challenge Director for the Medicines Manufacturing Challenge in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund team. The work involves building business cases for government investment in capital and R&D projects to boost UK health and wealth and delivery of funded programmes.
Nick retains a Visiting Professor role at Loughborough University where he was Professor of Regenerative Medicine Manufacture and Director of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine under an EPSRC Fellowship.
Nick has experience in regenerative medicine development building on a career in industry as a chemist and chemical engineer. Nick is a chartered chemist and a chartered chemical engineer, and he has spent a significant amount of his career working within Smith & Nephew. Nick also has experience in quality assurance, process design, regulatory affairs and economic analysis.
His specialties include: project cost projections and cost control; advice to grant funding bodies; set up and management of cleanroom facilities and pilot plants; application of healthcare regulations to new medical product development; project planning and control; and the construction of efficient quality management systems for medical research programmes.
He was made Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2011.
Ian is known worldwide as an authority on microdisplay technology, systems and applications. He describes himself as an "academic, innovator and entrepreneur."
Today he is employed by the University of Edinburgh as its Head of the Institute for Integrated Micro and Nano Systems (IMNS) and also acts as an independent consultant with pre-spin-out technology projects and early stage technology companies. He was a force in the pre-spin-out stage of Sofant; is Chairman of PureVLC; advisor to Holoxica and has mentored the management at Optoscribe.
Ian is an Associate Editor of the Journal of the Society for Information Display and sits on the technical program committee of the International Solid State Circuits Conference, the International Displays Research Conference and the Society for Information Display's Annual International Symposium.
His specialities include: electronic information displays, photonic and optoelectronic devices, components and systems.
Recent personal recognition includes Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year, Scotland (2003); Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2004); Gannochy Medal for Innovation winner (2004); Fellow of the Institute of Physics (2008); Appointed to the Scottish Science Advisory Council (2008) and elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2008.
Professor Neville Jackson FREng has spent nearly 40 years in industrial R&D, primarily in transport and energy systems. He has experience in managing complex R&D portfolios and spinning out new technologies into commercially funded startups.
He currently chairs both the RAC Foundation and the Institute of Digital Engineering Advisory Board and is also a non-executive director of the UK Advanced Propulsion Centre. He also chairs the Royal Academy of Engineering’s steering group for the Increasing engineering business R&D investment project. He has been a member of the UK Automotive Council since it was formed and is a member of the Strategy Team, chairing the R&D/Horizon Scanning working group.
From 2009 until 2019 he was Chief Technology and Innovation Officer for Ricardo plc. He has co-ordinated and authored a wide range of technology roadmaps at national and European level, defining the potential, and technology pathways for transport energy, propulsion systems, future vehicle electrical/electronic architectures and digitalisation/virtual product development.
A graduate of Imperial College London, he is also a visiting professor at the University of Brighton. His past roles have included Chairman of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, a six-year term as a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network, Vice Chair of the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC) and a member of the Industry Delegation for the European Green Vehicles Initiative (EGVI). He is also a Fellow of the US SAE and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2011.
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.
Dr David Parker FREng has a significant track record of helping to create and run successful technology companies.
He has extensive experience in building companies from early stage through to private and public exits, along with a long career in senior management in technology corporates.
Notable companies include HP, Agilent Technologies, Marconi, SPI and TRUMPF. He is currently a board member at several technology companies including Perpetuum where he serves as the Chairman, and he is the Managing Director of OPS Innovations. David is also Chairman of Lumenisity Ltd, has served as a Venture Partner at Touchstone Innovations (IP Group) and as the Chair of Concirus and Inflowmatics. His technical expertise is in optics, semiconductors and IIoT.
He has practical experience of standards organisations and their interactions with product roadmaps, corporate governance, risk management, environmental compliance and intellectual property.
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."
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.
John is Professor of Optoelectronic Systems and Dean of transnational Education at the University of Glasgow.
He moved to Glasgow in 1986, where he established an internationally leading research group addressing linear and nonlinear integrated optoelectronic systems. He developed new integration technologies for photonic integrated circuits based on quantum well devices and quantum well intermixing, which ultimately led to the formation of the spin-out company Intense Ltd in 2000.
Intense developed the world’s most advanced integrated laser systems, bringing monolithic laser arrays together with electronic ASICs and optics for precise energy delivery in a range of applications from printing to material processing. The monolithic laser arrays pushed reliability and manufacturing yields to new levels.
John has extensive experience of operating in both academic and high-technology industrial environments, and as a result has an excellent understanding of spinning out IP and creating commercial value from an academic base.
He has been involved with several start-up companies including Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd (1997-2000); Compound Semiconductor Technologies Ltd (1999-2000) and Intense Ltd (now Intense Inc) (2000-2009).
John was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2007; Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) in 2000; Fellow of IEEE (FIEEE) in 2000 ‘for contributions to development of integrated optics based on semiconductor quantum well devices’; and Fellow of the Optical Society (FOSA) in 2016 for ‘for contributions to quantum and photonics technologies and systems in III-V compound semiconductors’.