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.
Mark has extensive experience in growing and supporting businesses across a wide range of sectors covering oil and gas, energy, defence, instrumentation and communications. Currently he heads Mercia Fund Management’s Electronics, Hardware and Telecoms division.
He holds various positions on several boards, including Chairman of Oxifree Global Ltd; Non-Executive Director of Rawwater Engineering Company Ltd and Non-Executive Director of Smart Reamer Drilling Systems Ltd. He is also on the Advisory Board for Synaptec Ltd and Spectrum Corporate Finance LLP.
Mark holds an engineering degree from Cambridge University, a PhD from Southampton University and an MBA from Edinburgh University. He is a fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology.
John is the Director of the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre following a seven-year spell with PA Consulting Group's Technology Division where he was Manager of the Advanced Process Group. He was appointed director of the Engineering Design Centre in 1997 and a University Professor in 2004.
At PA John gained wide experience of product development with a particular focus on the design of medical equipment and high-integrity systems, where clients required a risk-based systems approach to design to ensure timely delivery of safe systems. John is directly involved in the teaching of design at all levels of the undergraduate course.
His research interests are in the general area of engineering design, particularly the development of design methodologies to address specific design issues, for example, process management, change management, healthcare design and inclusive design. As well as publishing over 800 papers, he has written and edited a number of books on medical equipment design, inclusive design and process management.
John is currently leading a team with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal College of Physicians and the Academy of Medical Sciences to develop a systems approach to healthcare redesign and continuous improvement. He was made Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2012.
Bill is a leading scientist worldwide in the field of Medical Materials. His major research contributions have been recognised by numerous international awards, medals and memberships.
He has been the Professor of Medical Materials at the University of Cambridge; served as Director of Cambridge Pfizer Institute for Pharmaceutical Materials Science; Cambridge Director of CMI Interdisciplinary Research Cluster in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering and Director of University of London Interdisciplinary Research Centre (IRC) in Biomedical Materials. He has been Head of Department, Dean, and Governor at Queen Mary University of London.
He has been the editor of the Journal of The Royal Society: Interface, the Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, the Journal of Materials Science, and of the Journal of Materials Science Letters.
Bill is Emeritus Professor of Medical Materials in the University of Cambridge. He is internationally recognised for his pioneering research contributions to biomaterials for medical devices, with awards including the Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Gold Medal; the Royal Society Armourers and Brasiers Company Medal; the Kelvin Medal; the European Society for Biomaterials George Winter Award; the Japanese Society for Biomaterials Medal; the Institute of Materials Griffiths Medal and Chapman Medal; the UK Society for Biomaterials President's Prize; the Acta Metallurgica H.H. Holloman Award and the International Union for Physical Sciences and Engineering in Medicine Award of Merit.
Professor Bonfield's exceptional interdisciplinary contribution has been recognised by his election to all three UK National Academies as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci).
Professor Joe McGeehan completed his PhD in 1971 and since then has been instrumental in many aspects of research and teaching in the field of Communications. He is even referred to as the 'godfather of mobile communications'.
Joe has been conducting research and development into mobile communications technologies and systems since 1973. Working with colleagues, he has pioneered many of the major developments in the field including: deterministric ray-tracing for propagation prediction and network coverage; linear modulation techniques and systems; linearised RF power amplifiers; SMART antennas; wideband CDMA for 3G; WLAN technologies and 60GHz propagation and communication systems.
Professor McGeehan's achievements in research have been acknowledged by membership of a number of national and international committees in the field of Communications, external examiner positions and mentoring of start-up companies.
His involvement in Communications over several decades led to being awarded in the Queens Birthday Honours 2004 a CBE for ‘services to the Communications Industry’. Joe was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1994 and was listed in 2004 as No.6 in the world’s ‘Technology AgendaSetters’ by silicon.com (USA) (N.B., Bill Gates was placed No.2).
Billy's vision is to change the way we currently diagnose and monitor serious disease. He is the co-founder of Owlstone, which aims to become the global leader in the non-invasive detection of cancer, infectious disease and inflammatory disease.
It is best to detect disease as early as possible: treatments are more effective, less involved and more lives can be saved. There is no better example of this than with cancer. If detected early, the chances of cancer survival can be as good at 95%. But this drops massively to about 5% at later stages. Unfortunately there are still far too many people detected at later stage.
To address this, Owlstone Medical has developed a breathalyzer for disease. Every time you breathe out there are hundreds of chemicals on your breath. Some are telltale markers of disease, which Owlstone microchip chemical sensor technology is able to detect. Through early detection Owlstone have set a goal to have saved 100,000 lives and $1.5 billion in health care costs by 2020.
Since co-founding Owlstone, Billy has been overseeing the development and implementation of the detection technology with nanotechnology foundry partners and is heavily involved in the creation and realisation of new technologies and IP. He is also active in business development, demonstrating how the Owlstone technology can be a paradigm shift in detection applications and deployment scenarios.
Prior to his time at Owlstone Billy was a Research Associate in the Microsystems and Nanotech group at Cambridge University. In an academic / industry consortium he designed and developed silicon-opto hybrid devices for next generation telecoms systems.
Cliff is a physicist with interests in soft matter, liquid crystals, displays, optoelectronics and photonics. Acknowledged as an inspirational technical leader and strategist, inventor and innovator, entrepreneur and public speaker, he is an experienced and award winning Chief Technology Officer, company founder and director. Cliff is currently a Professor of Physics; EPSRC Fellow of Advanced Manufacturing at the University of Leeds.
He is experienced in raising venture capital, growing ZBD Solutions Limited from nothing to over $30M sales per annum, becoming Europe's second fastest growing technology company for 2012.
Professor Jones is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Chartered Physicist and Fellow of the Institute of Physics, Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and Senior Member of the Society for Information Display.
Andrew has over 30 years’ design and operational experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, with direct responsibility for manufacturing, logistics, maintenance and capital programme management.
He has developed Biopharm Services into a leading provider of bioprocess modelling and knowledge management tools that support bioprocess innovation.
Prior to Biopharm Services, Andrew was Director of Engineering and Logistics at Lonza Biologics and holds an MSc in Biochemical Engineering from UCL. He was a finalist in “The Manufacturing Processing Thought Leader of the Decade” category at the 2012 BioProcess International Awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (2013).
Malcolm has been an active supporter of the Academy’s entrepreneurship activities in the UK and abroad for many years.
Following a distinguished career at Shell, Malcolm is currently Chair of Engineering UK, President of the Energy Institute and also finds time to Chair the Judging Panel of the Academy’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
Malcolm was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2002.