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.
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.
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.
As an entrepreneur and communications professional, Helen's mission is to help businesses do more good in the world. After nearly 15 years working in government relations and leadership communications, Helen set up her own boutique communications agency, HN Communications. A smaller and more person-centred alternative to bigger agencies, HN Communications works with large and small clients to deliver complex communications projects. Clients include Bosch, Heineken, Nissan and The Climate Group.
Helen founded her latest venture, Leaders LIVE in 2020, just as COVID-19 hit. Leaders LIVE fills a much-needed gap in the market for an independent, online platform for thought leadership and debate. Leaders LIVE brings together leaders from business, government and NGOs to debate some of the biggest challenges facing our world today, from tackling climate change to addressing diversity. After only a year Leaders LIVE has built a dedicated community, with live events hosted on LinkedIn and YouTube. Events regularly have hundreds of live attendees, with thousands more catching up on the replay.
James uses storytelling to help innovative businesses reap the rewards of putting purpose at the heart of their business. Ranked in The Drum’s top 10 UK marketing influencers, he is a published author (Humanizing B2B), mentor and speaker. He’s passionate about helping technology and engineering companies achieve their potential to change the world for good.
James started out working in tech before moving into marketing, as he felt there was a real gap in the industry’s understanding of the fundamentals and potential of technology. After a prestigious grad role at Saatchi and Saatchi he joined Tidalwave in its newly formed strategy department, which shortly thereafter was ranked in the Financial Times’ Fasttrack top 50 fastest growing privately owned companies in the UK at the time. In two of his four years there he was recognised as the agency’s MVP.
He ran award-winning agency Mason Zimbler - recognised as ‘UK Agency of the Year’ by B2B Marketing, and then successfully sold it to a US marketing giant.
As Co-Founder of Rooster Punk, he helps ambitious companies achieve sustainable growth and profitability through a more human and meaningful approach to the way they build their brand. Rooster Punk works with startups like Currencycloud (now a unicorn), scale-ups, VCs and platforms like Crowdcube as well as corporates such as Tata and Samsung.
James is also an advisor, mentor and investor in several other businesses and charities.