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.
Charco NeurotechLtd has developed the CUE1, a small, non-invasive, wearable therapeutic device for people with Parkinson’s disease. Worn on the sternum, the device delivers two validated neuromodulation therapies at the same time: focused vibrotactile stimulation and ‘cueing’. These improve motor performance and alleviate numerous symptoms, for example countering ‘freezing of gait’ (when people feel their feet are stuck to the ground).
The CUE1’s focused stimulation works with the body’s sensory system to help improve the speed and fluidity of an individual’s movement. Cueing uses regular or rhythmic stimuli to assist a person with Parkinson’s to start and continue movements like walking. Patients who have benefitted from the CUE1 say that their motions become smoother and better coordinated when wearing the device.
Everyone’s Parkinson’s is different, so an accompanying Bluetooth-enabled app (the CUE app) allows an individual to fine-tune the device’s vibration settings. It also provides a symptom tracker plus interactive games to record progress and movement.
Soo-Min (Lucy) Jung is the co-founder and CEO at Charco Neurotech. Lucy joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator in 2022 and says, “As Charco grows, I would like to enhance my leadership skills in several key areas, including strategic negotiations and dealmaking. The mentorship will also be an important element in my professional development – I will benefit both from the mentor’s advice and their expertise.”
At the end of 2021, Charco raised £7.4 million in a seed investment round. The company will use this to expand its team and continue the release of the CUE1. The funding will also ensure that the production of the device is fully scalable and the manufacturing quality is consistent. The backers of Charco believe that the CUE1 has the ability to greatly enhance the quality of life for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s worldwide.
Porotech has created a new class of semiconductor material: porous GaN, a composite of solid GaN and air. The company’s breakthroughs enable nanoscopic holes to be made in the semiconductor, resulting in a wide range of optical, mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties. The company is also delivering monochrome and full-colour micro-LED products to exceptionally high specifications.
Before this innovation, the manufacture of full-colour micro-LED displays was complicated and commercially prohibitive. Several material systems needed to be combined to develop a finished product. Porotech’s innovative process allows monochrome and full-colour displays to be placed on a single indium gallium nitride material system at mass scale, with the luminosity, efficiency and resolution needed for high-quality image projection against bright backgrounds.
Now, all three light-emitting elements can be produced using a single toolchain. Porotech’s technology offers a brand new material platform for semiconductor devices to be built on. This will be relevant for emerging markets such as micro-LED displays, metasurfaces, sensors, lasers, and quantum light sources.
Dr Yingjun Liu is the co-founder and CTO of Porotech Ltd, and joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator in 2022. He says, “As I am responsible for setting the technology plan and managing growing teams, I want to develop a unique blend of management and technical skills for a high-growth business. Being able to exchange ideas with future industrial leaders and learn from leading entrepreneurs will help me contribute even more to our company’s global business and technology progress.”
Porotech recently secured £14.5 million in Series A funding. This investment will help the company to speed up its production of micro-LED products and rapidly scale up. Micro-LED displays will play an important part in subsequent generations of TVs, wearables, smartphones, and AR glasses.
Surfactants, used to decrease surface or interfacial tensions, have multiple uses in the chemical industry. Their industrial applications include household detergents, cosmetics, and agriculture. Holiferm Ltd, a Manchester-based company, is looking to move away from non-fossil-based chemical surfactants by developing and supplying sustainable, fermentation-derived ingredients for industrial and consumer products.
Holiferm has developed commercially viable, continuous manufacturing processes for biosurfactants and lipids that are able to deliver green products to the mass market at volume, and at competitive prices. The company’s patented integrated gravity separation and fermentation technology increases fermentation process productivity fourfold and reduces biosurfactant production costs by more than 50%.
Vicky De Groof joined Holiferm as a fermentation engineer. Within a year she had become the company’s Chief Technology Officer, responsible for a team of 10 people. Vicky then joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator programme in 2022, and says, “I hope the networking opportunities and workshops will allow me to meet others, create new ideas, widen my perspectives, build my business confidence and lead to serendipitous findings.”
Holiferm is aiming to persuade the £27 billion surfactant market to move away from petroleum-based chemicals to biobased, sustainable alternatives. In 2021, the company started the year with a team of 10 and a pilot plant. By the end of that year, it had raised over £7 million of investment, increased the team to 20 people, and started to build a commercial plant.
Now, it is developing and refining new processes, doubling the team count again and generating a clear product pipeline. Holiferm’s fermentation technology will enable it to produce other types of biosurfactants and fermentation-derived chemicals that will help transform the chemical industry into a more sustainable one.
There are approximately 50 pantograph (an apparatus mounted on the roof of an electric train to collect power through contact with an overhead line) related incidents in the UK each year. These cause cancellations of passenger services, damage infrastructure, reduce safety and reliability of electrified train operation and have huge financial implications (tens of millions of pounds per incident) for both train operating companies and infrastructure managers such as Network Rail.
A lack of real-time information about pantograph operation and being unable to regularly inspect the infrastructure to inform data-driven decisions currently costs Network Rail around £530 million per annum.
Sentech Analytics Ltd has developed a new ‘smart-pantograph’ system: a multi-parameter, patented and field-evaluated optical fibre-based sensor system integrated with video information, to inform better data-driven maintenance solutions. This system allows users to create comprehensive inspection reports (required by the regulatory bodies) and reduce maintenance costs by providing real-time insight on the status of infrastructure and railway pantographs, preventing costly incidents while reducing maintenance and service outages.
Recent work with Network Rail on the Great Western Electrification programme illustrated this, and the smart pantograph now facilitates faster, more environmentally friendly passenger journeys between Bristol and Cardiff.
The company’s plan moving forward is to get detailed understanding of the challenges faced by the main stakeholders (within the UK and EU), to secure a pilot project and establish appropriate business models for two different market segments: train operating companies and infrastructure managers.
“In this very short period of time, the training provided by the Royal Academy of Engineering has been very important for my personal development as well as a great guidance on how to establish the company. In addition to that, having regular conversations with staff and my coach has been very helpful to get answers to a number of dilemmas.”
When a manufacturer, for example a car maker, wants a new component made, it will go to a supplier with its specifications. To make this new item, the supplier needs material multi-axial property data to predict its materials’ response in the manufacturing process. Existing testing methods cannot supply such data across all possible temperature and stress states.
To solve this issue, Dr Zhutao Shao and his colleagues from Imperial College London have developed and patented the world’s first high-temperature multi-axial material testing system. This patented testing process involves stretching a piece of material from multiple directions and under different service conditions until it fractures. Customers are then given the data and can use it to optimise their material’s structure.
Most existing systems use room temperature for testing and some may go up to 300° to 500°C. Dr Shao’s innovation can go over 1,000°C when needed. This option is important when judging how a material will behave under various stress states during the hot stamping manufacturing process. His multi-axial testing also undertakes fatigue, tension and compression testing of materials within a wide range of temperatures. The suite of checks are labelled ‘hot multi-axial tests’.
Multi-X Solutions already collaborates with car component suppliers for lightweight structural design and production of vehicles and will start trial sales in 2020. The company currently has one service and two products open to the transportation industry. Multi-X Solutions also has a materials database that will be added to as the company conducts tests on more engineering materials and structures.
The market that Multi-X are working in stands at £850 million worldwide and is rapidly expanding. The company is now looking to further develop and standardise the cost-effective testing methods for the data-driven advanced manufacturing industry.
2018 Awarded Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Impact Acceleration Account funding
2018 Awarded title of the Most Valuable Project in Tencent Auto Open Platform Competition
2019 Dr Zhutao Shao was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2020 Accepted onto Imperial Techcelerate Programme
Unmanned Life’s software-as-a-service platform integrates different types of drones and robots to work together as autonomous fleets. The company uses AI to automatically deploy and manage UAVs and ground vehicles, both indoors and outdoors. These collaborative autonomous workforces can be used for a variety of business uses including surveillance and security, public safety, emergency response, warehousing, logistics, shipping and inventory counts.
Unmanned Life’s Autonomy-as-a-Service platform works over the cloud, with or without GPS, and communicates via radio, Wi-Fi, 4G or 5G. It can integrate swarms of different types of robotic devices to work together and its services have potential for the Industry 4.0 and Smart City applications.
Wasif Mehdi, is the Chief Operating Officer at Unmanned Life responsible for company operations and portfolio delivery. He also fills the role of Product Lead, jointly with the CTO and CEO. Wasif joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator programme in 2022. He says, “Networking with my peers will enable a cross-pollination of ideas, strategies and approaches for us. I see the accelerator as a critical source of knowledge, experience and skills that will feed into our business’s day-to-day operations. This will be especially relevant across our teams, processes and tools, and help smooth our scale up journey.”
Unmanned Life has already succeeded in getting significant investment and establishing working partnerships. The company is now looking to secure recurring commercial revenue contracts — a key milestone to achieve in preparation for a Series A funding round. It will then be able to fully exploit its position as the world’s leading provider of a cloud-based, software-controlled, fully autonomous drone and robot service platform.
Recycleye Ltd has created the world’s largest visual AI dataset of waste materials, working in collaboration with academics from leading European universities. Using this knowledge, the company has developed Recycleye Vision, a database with over 3 million labelled images classifying waste. This system combines AI, smart analytics and low-cost cameras to identify refuse in real time. It can further refine identification by weight and brand detection and is already being used in large materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in England, Northern Ireland, France and Italy.
Recycleye Robotics encompasses a robotic picking system in tandem with the Recycleye Vision database to physically pick up the recyclable waste at an MRF and place it into containers. The robot can pick 55 items a minute and is both more consistently efficient and accurate than human pickers. By applying machine learning, the system is able to detect differences between items such as food and non-food-grade plastics. As a result, the increased accuracy of the process boosts the resale value of the output bales of an MRF’s recyclables by as much as fivefold.
Peter Hedley is the co-founder and CTO at Recycleye, and joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator programme in 2022. He says, “Our company has expanded so quickly that I am now the manager of other managers! I feel the accelerator scheme will give me the support to improve our planning, culture and technical strategy. The programme will also give me access to a network of other senior SME people who will share valuable knowledge at a critical stage of our growing business.”
Recycleye’s potential has already been recognised and it has raised around £5 million to date. The company will use this funding to scale up and increase the accuracy and capabilities of its machine learning and robotics technology. It will also look to expand its product line and find more European partners.
Material Evolution Ltd is using machine learning algorithms and patented geopolymer technology to turn waste into new materials. The company’s first success has been to use its pioneering chemical and manufacturing processes to produce a cement replacement made from 96% industrial waste.
The main carbon emitter in concrete is cement. By developing previously unused waste streams, such as slag from the steel industry, Material Evolution has been able to reduce CO2 emissions in its cement by 85%. The company’s machine learning algorithms ensure material consistency and repeatability in every batch.
Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Gilligan is a co-founder and the CEO of Material Evolution. Liz provides the technical direction for the company, as well as fundraising and selling. In 2022, she joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator programme and says, “This will hone my leadership skills for running our technical and non-technical teams. I plan to use the accelerator to develop more contacts and establish the best ways to inform people about the company and its products.”
Material Evolution’s potential has already been recognised. Towards the close of 2021, it raised £2.5 million in seed investment and grants. The company intends to use this to hire more team members, develop more products and set up batch production facilities. It ambitions are to work on new waste streams, achieve a production capacity of 100,000 tonnes, and further evolve its production algorithms. This will help the company achieve its aim: to help rapidly and radically decarbonise the UK’s foundation industries by improving their energy and resource efficiencies.
Cell and gene therapies have proven to be effective methods of treatment for diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and a range of cancers. However, there are two main challenges hindering the use and accessibility of these therapies. The first is that development timelines can be slow, due to time spent on resource-intensive process redesigns. The second is that manufacturing costs are currently high, due to expensive reagents, the necessity of clean room facilities and high batch failure rates.
MicrofluidX Ltd is tackling the problems of process control, scalability, and high costs associated with cell bioprocessing, particularly for autologous cell and gene therapy. Its automated closed technology enables scientists to speedily carry out process development by running dozens of cell culture conditions in parallel, with extreme process control. MicrofluidX’s strategy then facilitates scale up of the optimal condition to several billion cells for manufacturing at a fraction of current costs, while maintaining the same process development cell environment, thus avoiding expensive process redesigns.
Dr James Kusena is Vice President of Bioprocessing and Applications at MicrofluidX. James joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator programme in 2022. He says, “There are several areas of expertise that I would like to develop including: creative and strategic thinking, project management and effective decision-making. These would allow me to enhance my leadership skills for both projects and partnerships.”
MicrofluidX is now looking to further develop its microfluidics-based cell and gene therapy process development and manufacturing platforms. The company will do this by disseminating a range of prototypes to partners in order to gain further external validation. It will also finalise the research and development of its chip and cassette designs, ready for manufacturing. This will permit MicrofluidX to grow its network and close its Series A funding.
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 Dick Whittington FREng is an entrepreneur, business mentor and investor, focusing on the software industry and digital marketplaces, with over 30 years of experience in business. His experience has included co-founding a successful international software business recognised in UK through three Queen's Awards covering both innovation and international trade.
In 2012 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering where he plays an active role, including as a mentor for early-stage technology startups and spin-outs through its highly successful Enterprise Hub. He is also an active mentor and angel investor within several London and regional technology accelerator programmes, and is Honorary Professor of Business Innovation at the University of York.
Prior to pursuing business interests, Dick lectured in computer science at the University of York. He managed a successful research team and published several research papers and books. His latest book Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Cambridge University Press, 2018) provides an introduction to digital business for STEM students and early-stage entrepreneurs.
"The concept of the Enterprise Hub resonated with me as a solid, practical initiative to benefit UK engineering through engaging the Academy’s extraordinary network of talent. The role of the Hub in launching and scaling such businesses is of enormous value to the UK economy and the engineering profession.”
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.
Dr Liane Smith FREng founded Intetech Ltd in 1991, winning the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2012 for its software. She sold the business to Wood Group in 2013 and in 2018 she left to form a new consulting engineering business, Larkton Ltd.
Liane is enthusiastic about the capability of digital technologies to transform businesses, bringing efficiencies, cost reduction, production control and increasing safety. In her last role as Senior Vice President Digital Solutions for Wood, she built the new global service line and defined its strategy roadmap and development plan. Her expertise is in various specialist branches of engineering in the industrial and energy sectors and in software product design and commercialisation, data management, data analysis, and analytics.
“I try to fill in gaps in mentees experience and give them confidence in their decisions. Typically we touch on building strong teams, role and task delegation, agile development, growing sales, exporting and strategy."
Sir Peter Bonfield CBE FREng is a leading international business executive with over 50 years’ experience in the fields of electronics, computers and communications. Change management in international technology companies has been at the centre of his long and illustrious career.
Since 2002 Sir Peter has been involved with a diverse portfolio of companies and is currently operating at main board level or director of several companies in the US, Europe and the Far East. In the past, he has served in as CEO of ICL and more recently of BT Group.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (1993), the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the British Computer Society, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Marketing Society and the Royal Society of Arts.
Sir Peter is a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, Freeman of the City of London, Honorary Citizen of Dallas, Texas and Member of The Pilgrims of Great Britain.
More information about Sir Peter can be found at www.sirpeterbonfield.com
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.
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."