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.
and Chief Technology Officer, Oxford HighQ
Oxford HighQ is a spin-out company from the University of Oxford’s Departments of Materials and Chemistry. It is developing nanoparticle sensing instruments that are up to 10,000 times more sensitive than available optical sensing technologies. The company has engineered a way of producing large-scale, repeatable, high precision optical microcavities for the first time.
These sensors will enable new tools to be created in pharmaceutical and medical research, as well as food and water monitoring. This technology could prove a step-change in performance for chemical and nanoparticle sensing.
Aurélien Trichet is Co-Founder and CTO at Oxford HighQ, managing the R&D team and directing technology development. He became an SME Leader in 2020 and is looking forward to using the programme. He says: “This opportunity is ideal for me. It will allow me to move from a heavy academic skillset to a more business and technology management one. The workshop, coaching and mentoring will all help me make this transition.”
Oxford HighQ is aiming to transition from R&D to mass production in 2021. Its first product provides a way to measure drug loading and delivery profiles as well as particle size for nanomedicine applications. As a consequence, researchers within academic institutions, SMEs and pharmaceutical companies will have better quality assurance procedures, a crucial requirement in this valuable industry.
Research shows that 23% of the
world’s energy is lost through tribological contact, which is the wear and
friction generated by interacting surfaces in motion.
Tribosonics Limited, a Sheffield company, has developed sensing technology to tackle wear, friction and lubrication issues in rotating equipment. The business venture designs, manufactures and installs high-end, often bespoke, ultrasonic sensing and data capture platforms across many industrial sectors.
Tribosonics inserts sensors within bearings, seals and other moving parts to create smart components that can measure and monitor tribological contact as well as other performance and structural metrics. The generated data helps companies to extend plant life, prevent critical failures, shorten maintenance cycles and reduce energy use through improved operational efficiency.
Christina King is the Chief Commercial Officer for Tribosonics, responsible for building innovative commercial partnerships with large corporations. Christina joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and says “I want to gain business insights and build networks that will help develop my personal journey, as well as scale-up the company.”
In 2020, Tribosonics secured over £1 million of equity investment from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, via Mercia Asset Management. This will enable the company to double in size over the next three years. It is now looking to further expand its patented ultrasonic sensing technologies into global industrial markets.
Lightpoint Medical develops molecular imaging and sensing technologies to help surgeons detect cancer in real time during surgery. In spite of the technological advances in robotic surgery, surgeons still depend on their eyesight to detect cancer intra-operatively. As a result, surgeons sometimes leave cancer behind or remove more healthy tissue than needed.
The company’s award-winning SENSEI® technology, a miniaturised intra-operative cancer detection probe, gives surgeons a chance to fully remove cancer in one procedure, while retaining healthy tissue. It can be used across many major cancer types including stomach, colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancer.
Dr Kunal Vyas is the Head of Research at Lightpoint Medical, responsible for evaluating new technologies, overseeing research projects and developing the company’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio. Kunal joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021. He says “I hope that the programme’s strategic innovation management initiative will maximise my performance as we commercialise and scale-up. I will also benefit from access to workshops and speaker events on topics such as IP management and pitching.”
In 2021, SENSEI® received CE mark, enabling it to be sold in the European Economic Area. Lightpoint Medical has begun multi-centre clinical trials with the probe. The company will now transition from being an R&D-focused organisation into a commercial enterprise.
Loudspeakers are used in billions of devices worldwide including smartphones, laptops, tablets and smart speakers. For nearly 100 years, the dominant technology to reproduce sound has been the dynamic loudspeaker. One of the main mechanisms it uses is the voice coil transducer, a very simple device that also has significant drawbacks in terms of electrics, mechanics and acoustics.
Dominika Behounik is Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of Arya Audio Labs. The company was formed with Arthur Marker to develop audio products. One of these was the AirBlade transducer. Instead of trying to incrementally improve a 100-year old imperfect design, it approached the problem from a different, disruptive angle.
Rather than using a heavy diaphragm with separate voice coil, the AirBlade transducer incorporates ultralight ring-shaped foil elements arranged in layers with conductive traces of aluminium bonded to it. When an electrical signal is applied, opposite layers of the diaphragm either move towards or away from each other depending on the direction of the current, thereby moving air and creating sound.
By distributing the diaphragm area over several layers and implementing a curved shape, AirBlade avoids the typical beaming problem of traditional drivers while achieving higher power handling, reduced distortion and better air coupling due to its large diaphragm surface area. The transducer’s radiation pattern can also be tailored to specific requirements of the application it is driving.
Arya Audio Labs has manufactured in-house since its inception. It uses advanced prototyping tools including 3D printing, 5 axis CNC machines and state-of-the-art measurement facilities. The company started shipping the AirBlade directly to customers at the beginning of 2020 and it proved a very popular seller. It is now looking for ways to improve and speed up the processes to help deliver highest quality products.
The audio market has been on the rise for the past couple of years, with an abundance of streaming services available as well as vinyl records experiencing a come-back. The company’s technology has been especially well received at the high end of the market and in the automotive audio sectors, two markets that are worth over £1 billion a year alone.
Dominika says of the Enterprise Fellowship: “I come from an academic background, where it’s natural to focus your efforts on developing technology and forget that you are actually trying to run a business! The Fellowship has given me an excellent opportunity to shift that mindset, and strike a good balance between the two.”
– Arya Audio Labs debuts at High End Munich as a Newcomer
2018 – First product, RevOpod, starts shipping
2019 – RevOpod receives Best of 2018 award by Mono and Stereo
2019 – AirBlade loudspeaker starts shipping to original equipment manufacturing partners
2020 – AirBlade loudspeaker becomes available for end customers
Visit their website: www.arya-audio.com
Grakn Labs have developed a system called Grakn, an open-source intelligent database. Grakn handles large amounts of complex data through knowledge engineering – commonly known as knowledge graphs. It is the world’s first database with a schema powered by a knowledge representation system and uses a query language called Graql to enable this.
Grakn’s database technology provides the knowledge base foundation for artificial intelligence systems used in various industries, including financial services, defence and security, life sciences, robotics and cyber security.
Tomás Sabat is the Chief Operating Officer at Grakn Labs, responsible for generating sales, marketing and finance. He develops strategic relationships with clients who can benefit from Grakn’s ability to easily model, query and analyse complex information in a simple and logical way.
Tomás joined the SME Leaders programme in 2018. He says: “The scheme has given us an introduction to investors and provided leadership and media training. It has also supplied us with networking opportunities with other engineering businesses in the UK.”
Grakn Labs has doubled its staff in two years and raised £2.4 million of funding. It is now ready to produce at scale, both in terms of commercial adoption as well as scaling its technology.
MySense Ltd has created a wellbeing analytics platform for people with declining health, enabling them to live independently in their own homes. Its system uses a network of wearable and fixed sensors in a property. Using artificial intelligence and the internet of things, the platform learns a person’s pattern of behaviour, while building up an informed picture of a user’s health condition.
Thousands of data points track a user’s nutrition, hydration, independence, activity and overall sense of wellbeing. A smartwatch records heart rate and step count, while an easy-to-use dashboard displays the information, highlighting any unusual patterns and triggering a notification to a nominated responder.
MySense monitoring data doesn’t record video or sound as there are no cameras or microphones. The real-time data allows family members, friends, clinicians and care givers to stay informed about a person’s wellbeing. Detailed evaluations through use have shown significant reductions in GP appointments, 999 calls and unplanned hospital admissions.
Lucie Glenday is Co-Founder and Group CEO of MySense. Lucie joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and is looking forward to two specific programme initiatives. She says “Having a mentor will allow me to talk through decisions the company is making and how to position these in order to gain maximum impact. And I’m hoping that learning at one of the world’s top universities will further develop my leadership skills.”
MySense consists of data scientists, engineers, testers, clinical researchers and a commercially-experienced management team. The company is growing quickly and is now working on raising brand awareness, building a research partnership network and preparing its platform for international markets.
When Mohammed Belal became an SME Leader in 2019, he had already co-founded MIRICO, a company developing laser sensing technology for real-time gas sensing. Now, Mohammed is setting up a new venture, Celestial Eye, a spin-out from RAL Space.
Celestial Eye is developing innovative space-borne sensors deployed in a constellation to obtain global high-precision weather data. The project is working on providing high-resolution profiles of moisture and temperature across the atmosphere. This will improve the observation and forecasting of weather patterns as well as monitoring climate change.
Mohammed credits the SME Leader programme with honing his entrepreneurial skills, He says: “I gained valuable insights from other SME Leaders about startups and networking. It also helped me develop my management capabilities and the fundamental skills required to set up and scale businesses.”
Mohammed is responsible for setting up the venture and defining business strategy for the launch and development. He is currently focused on raising capital to build an engineering team and launch its first satellite. The mission will improve observations of weather systems, and more accurately forecast extreme events.
Jelly Drops are 95% water sweets, designed to help people with dementia stay hydrated. Initially developed by Lewis for his Grandma Pat, Jelly Drops turn something that can often be a difficult task into the highlight of the day.
Many people with dementia no longer feel thirst, don’t equate drinking with quenching thirst, or don’t recognise cups or have the dexterity to pick them up. To understand this better, Lewis lived in his grandma’s care home for a month. He realised that while many residents struggled to hydrate themselves independently, they all loved sweets.
Dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK, currently effecting more than 850,000 people. This is expected to reach over 1.5 million by 2040. Jelly Drops are bright, easy to pick up, vegan, sugar-free (with no laxative effect) sweets, that contain natural colours and flavours, and are shelf-stable. They enable people with dementia to hydrate themselves independently and with dignity.
The company has just launched and its main focus is to reach people with dementia that are suffering from dehydration. Jelly Drops will do this through care homes, but also via an online shop to serve people out in the community. Once established in the UK, Jelly Drops plans to ship the products abroad, and already has a waiting list of 35,000 in the US.
Jelly Drops hopes to diversify its product range to help a wider audience with hydration and other critical dietary requirements.
Jelly Drops was the first company accepted onto the Alzheimer’s Society Innovation Accelerator Programme and the project recently won the Outstanding Dementia Care Innovation Award at the Dementia Care Awards. Other awards include Pitch@Palace Global - Winner, European Investment Bank - Social Innovation Prize, EIT Food – UK Winner, EIT Health - Future of Health Award, Innovation Forum - IMAGINE IF! Global winner, Pitch@Palace 11.0 - Audience Vote and People’s Choice Award, Huawei - New Working Order Bursary and the Meaning-Centred Design - Student Healthcare Winner .
The Enterprise fellowship has provided us with invaluable support in helping us scale the business and create robust and sustainable systems for growth.
The value of lost productivity due to knee osteoarthritis is estimated to be $100 billion annually in the US alone. Efforts need to be made to improve recovery from osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal injury.
Zappt coordinates targeted neuromuscular activation with the patient’s movements to enable joint offloading in osteoarthritis and dynamic bracing in musculoskeletal injury. Joint offloading involves shifting pressure within the joint away from a region of damage towards a healthier portion whereas dynamic bracing involves selectively applied support in situationally specific load cases.
It plans to carry out user trials with the Royal Dutch Football Association, the KNVB, in the Netherlands. This will be the first major field trial of its novel prototype. Zappt hopes to use the insights gained to hone the product and make sure it performs as partners require.
“[The Enterprise Hub has helped us] by providing access to a network of invaluable support, and by forcing us to refine our ideas about the product and our business model.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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."
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.
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.