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.
Developing new medicines takes an average of at least 15 years, costing more than £2 billion from discovery to patient. These efforts are often hindered by not being able to match the right compound to the right disease – 95% of chemical compounds being tested in the lab never make it to patient approval and use.
Micrographia Bio Ltd has built a deep-tech system that uses artificial intelligence to facilitate bio-image analysis. The application of computer-vision machine-learning algorithms enables rapid, scalable development of models and analysis. By combining these algorithms with autonomous microscopy and molecular biology, the total effects of small molecule compounds within human cells can be interrogated.
Dr Julia Fan Li is the Co-Founder and CEO of Micrographia Bio Ltd. Julia is responsible for providing the vision for the company and executing the financing and hiring. She joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and hopes the programme will provide her with additional operational knowledge that will help grow the company from seed stage to Series-A funding.
Micrographia Bio’s platform is generating an atlas for modern drug discovery by matching the right compound to the disease it is best suited to cure. Dr Julia Fan Li says “It is Micrographia Bio’s fundamental belief that all diseases deserve a cure.”
Neurological disorders and injuries of the nervous system, such as epilepsy, stroke and spinal cord injury, have caused death and disability for millions of people worldwide. It’s estimated that one-third of total disability is attributed to neurological conditions alone, carrying a significant burden to individuals, healthcare systems and society.
Although medicines have shown to be helpful in many cases, developing pharmaceuticals is becoming more expensive and less efficient. Currently, the most effective, clinically available devices for treating brain disorders are based on bulky, invasive units, typically implanted in the upper chest region. They house a battery, large electronic components, and connect to a handful of implanted electrodes.
MINT proposes a new approach for treating neurological conditions with novel implantable neurotechnologies. Its solution delivers fully wireless medical implants, 1,000 times smaller than current clinical devices, reducing surgical risk and paving the way for injectable bioelectronics. The implants can be arranged to form a distributed network of chip-scale devices, which are capable of high fidelity recording of the neural activity, providing both a more accurate monitoring and intervention.
In the short term, this fundamental change will reduce the risk and costs associated with monitoring brain activity. MINT’s long-term vision is to enable brain-computer interface (BCI) applications and new treatments for neurological conditions such as stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.
In the next year, MINT’s aims to validate the technology in pre-clinical trials, while developing a plan for a first in-human clinical trial in patients suffering from neurological conditions. Its partnership with centres of excellence in neuroscience and neurology including Imperial College London, Newcastle University, King’s College London, and UCL will fast track technology development, optimised for specific clinical needs.
In 2019, Vochlea Music set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise £40,000 and launch its first product. Vochlea reached its goal in 45 minutes and within a month had secured over £200,000 worth of funding. This enabled the company to produce and send out the Dubler Studio Kit to initial purchasers worldwide.
The Dubler Studio Kit is an artificial intelligence audio engine that enables users to create, control and manipulate music using their voice. It comes in two parts. The Dubler software is a virtual MIDI instrument for Mac and PC that is compatible with any digital audio workstation. The second element is a low-latency USB microphone, which is tuned with the software. This combination allows musicians to use their voice to set off samples, control synthesisers, operate filters and manipulate effects in real-time.
Kelly Angood is the Chief Marketing Officer at Vochlea Music. Kelly joined the SME Leaders programme in 2020. She says “It will help shape my management style, support the defining of KPIs and sales goals, and enable me to make additional contributions to the growth and development of Vochlea Music.”
The company is now beginning mobile development of its product. This will allow users to share their creations between devices and people. It will also give greater access to those wanting to create on-the-go music and an alternative to traditional desk-bound MIDI controllers.
nuron Limited has developed a dual-purpose fibre-optic monitoring system that enables wastewater network operators to have a minute-by-minute insight into what is happening inside their sewers. It also enables fibre networks to be deployed faster and with less disruption. The company’s patented technology is continuously installed within sewer pipes, creating a nervous system for sewers. In real-time, it measures the flow, depth, temperature and structural integrity of the sewer network, allowing proactive and data-driven decision-making.
Claire Fenwick is the Managing Director of nuron, and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business. As part of the SME Leaders Programme, Claire chose a leadership course that benefitted her whole management team.
The company’s growth has been swift, with staff numbers increasing from three to 16 in the two years since Claire joined the scheme. In that time, nuron has started to transition from a purely development company to a revenue-generating business. It has deployed its first installation in a live sewer where the data and insight proved beyond expectation. It has raised £3 million through raising equity and innovation loans and grants and is now focused on ramp-up for its first scale deployment. Claire thinks that the company’s technology will allow water companies to be both proactive and predictive in their wastewater operations.
“Doing the course together helped us bond as a management team. We became more self-aware and jointly developed a clear vision, mission and values before we started to grow. This enabled us to become a cohesive and effective management team with an excellent company culture and high employee retention.”
In the future, every vehicle manufactured will have some degree of autonomy and they will all need to ‘see’ the world around them. The leading solution for machine vision is light detection and ranging (LiDAR), which uses laser pulses to build a 3D model of the environment around the vehicle. However, lasers travel in a straight line and need rotating mirrors to guide them in the right direction. The moving parts for these systems make them bulky and expensive.
Dr Richard Taylor is the founder of the University of Glasgow spin out Vector Photonics. He has invented photonic crystal lasers that push the boundary of what is possible with semiconductor lasers. He has developed a laser that can be electronically steered in two dimensions. Instead of doing the steering with conventional moving parts, it can do it electronically. This removes the need for the LiDAR set up to have mirrors, reducing both system size and cost.
Vector Photonics has had two patents granted and has demonstrated that it can make lasers in a laboratory. The company has also made lasers in a commercial foundry to show that they can also be created in an industrial setting, not just a university laboratory.
Dr Taylor says: “We now have to focus on making them for customer specification. We have another 18 months of development work before we can start selling them at scale. We’re now looking to raise investment for that phase of things.”
He continues: “The Enterprise Fellowship was important for me as it provided useful business training while giving me the time to work on developing the company’s business case.”
He joined the Scale Up Accelerator programme in 2021 and says: “the cohort nature of the accelerator will create a great source of combined and additional business knowledge. It will allow me to develop the leadership and management skills required for a rapidly growing company like ours.”
In the coming year, Vector Photonics aims to progress its technology from proof of concept to the commercial market. The company recently benefited from £2 million of Innovate UK grants. It will use this to grow its team and commercialise its PCSELs into high-growth markets like 3D printing, data communications and LiDAR.
2014 Dr Taylor gains the Institution of Engineering and Technology
postgraduate scholarship award for his work with lasers
2018 Kickstart business competition finalist
2018 Secured funding from ICURe
2019 £70,000 of funding from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and £30,000 from a Glasgow company to support that award
2020 RBS six-month accelerator programme providing training, mentorship and office space
Visit their website: www.vectorphotonics.co.uk
Companies know who their suppliers are, but not their suppliers' suppliers. This makes it difficult for companies to manage many types of risks including supply chain disruptions, brand and reputation risks such as modern-day slavery in the supply chain, or carbon footprint implications and risks relating to regulatory compliance.
Versed AI’s technology uses state-of-the-art natural language processing (NLP) techniques to identify supply chain intelligence, including buyer-supplier relationships, products and services, and manufacturing locations.
Versed AI’s has three priorities for the next year. It plans to build a client interface as a basis for its SaaS platform, improve the size of its knowledge graph of supply chain relationships by adding new data sources, and increase the number of data points, such as manufacturing locations and addresses.
Supply chain disruptions are hugely costly to companies. A report by McKinsey (August 2018) estimates that over the course of a decade companies can expect to lose 42% of a year’s net earnings to supply chain disruptions. In the corporate world, 81% lack good supply chain visibility, and it is an even a larger problem for small- and medium-sized companies. Versed AI seeks to take full advantage of this huge commercial opportunity.
Methane leakage from a gas distribution network (GDN) has serious environmental and financial implications. Methane is 84 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 and it causes an estimated the global loss in revenue of £16 billion. The most practical way of reducing leakage is through improved management of the pressures in networks. However, existing technology is time-consuming to install and needs constant manual intervention.
Utonomy has developed an innovative control system that includes a motorised actuator, which can be retrofitted to gas governors already installed across a GDN, and a cloud-based data platform. Utonomy’s grid-monitoring software and algorithms allow GDNs to better control and manage pressures on their network.
Claire-Elise Orleach is the Head of Business Development at Utonomy. She is responsible for the company’s stakeholder management across gas utilities and for its sales and marketing initiatives. Claire-Elise joined the SME Leaders programme in 2020 and says: “The training, mentorship and coaching offered by the programme will be a support to me and the company as we the transition to commercialisation. There will be significant opportunities in the UK as the gas grid is digitised and Utonomy aims to lead in this space with smartgrid solutions.”
Utonomy’s new technology has the potential to greatly reduce the global problem of methane leakage from GDNs worldwide. Following a series of trials, Utonomy is about to launch its first product. Its innovation should enable GDNs to achieve their environmental targets and improve their operational efficiency.
Autonomous vehicles promise to revolutionise mobility by reducing road accidents, removing mobility barriers for older and disabled people, and reducing traffic congestion. However, safely navigating autonomous vehicles is challenging. To date, approximately $1 billion has been invested but no imaging system has been able to accurately meet all key performance requirements.
LIDAR is an advanced vision technique used to navigate autonomous vehicles. An infrared detector enables the LIDAR system to see. Phlux has created a breakthrough detector technology that will drastically increase the measurement range of LIDAR systems enabling autonomous cars to see further, lowering rates of misdetection, and improving data quality and confidence. These all translate to safer navigation.
Over the next 12 months, Phlux will develop prototype detectors and demonstrate them in commercial LIDAR systems to validate its value proposition. In the next year, Ben is looking forward to establishing commercial partnerships and refining his business model.
The infrared sensors market is expected to experience rapid growth over the next few years, driven by the demand for LIDAR-based advanced driver assisted systems. The automotive infrared sensor market alone is predicted to reach £150 million by 2026, with 46% compound annual growth rate.
Phlux has been supported by the North by Northwest ICURe team, Innovate UK, Research England and the University of Sheffield.
“Being from a technical background I recognise that I need to develop new business skills if I am to fulfil my ambitions for Phlux. The Enterprise Fellowship is an incredible opportunity for me to develop the skills, network and confidence I need to become a successful entrepreneur.”
There is a need to manufacture new materials to produce lighter planes, cars and vehicles.
iCOMAT is a University of Bristol spinout that has developed a patented process for making advanced carbon fibre composites. These are lighter, stronger and more cost-effective than the current state-of-the-art processes used in the aerospace, automotive and marine sectors.
The sum of annual fuel bills for airlines globally can exceed $200 billion . iCOMAT’s technology can drastically reduce the weight of aerospace components (a 10% to 38% improvement over existing composite parts) and lead to significant economic and environmental benefits.
The next key milestone is to demonstrate the benefits of this technology through pilot projects the company has already secured. This will help develop and finalise our manufacturing technique, utilising unidirectional tapes laid upon part moulds prior to loading known as tape laying.
So far, iCOMAT has secured two grant-funded projects, which are currently underway with Innovate UK as well as privately funded development contracts with leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
“I look forward to the Enterprise Fellowship and the support that is provided by the Royal Academy of Engineering. The network of the Academy and the expert mentorship will be invaluable in scaling up iCOMAT and its offering.”
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.
Dr John C Taylor OBE FREng was born in Buxton, Derbyshire in 1936. Having spent five years living in Canada
during his childhood, he returned home towards the end of the Second World War.
He attended King William’s College on
the Isle of Man before studying Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.
Dr John C Taylor is one of the UK’s most successful and prolific living inventors and, over a sixty-year career, has invented, produced and sold components for numerous electrical appliances around the world.
While at his company Strix Ltd, Dr Taylor established the business as the world-leading manufacturer of kettle controls. His research was instrumental in designing the ubiquitous safety switch that turns a kettle off when it boils and prevents it from overheating, and he also designed the 360˚ cordless connectors in modern kettles.
Dr Taylor’s innovations led to the production and sale of almost two billion kettle controls - 75% of the global market. His inventions in the development of bi-metallic safety critical cut-outs for electric motors are also used in domestic appliances such as hairdryers and fan heaters. His work has also seen over four hundred patents filed, including automatic windshield wipers, electric motor protectors and cordless kettle connectors and controls, and it is a testament to these components’ visionary design that they continue to be in prolific use today.
Dr Taylor has been the recipient of many honours including, but not limited to, the following:
He is also an elected Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, and has been conferred Honorary Doctorates from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and Durham University. When he’s not inventing and innovating, Dr Taylor is a keen aviator, mountaineer, yachtmaster and philanthropist.
Dr John C Taylor is a committed philanthropist and has made a number of donations in order to ensure that young engineers in the UK have the tools they need to be competitive in a global market. In 2017, he became the main sponsor of the new Dr John C Taylor Enterprise Hub, affectionately known as the Taylor Centre, in the Royal Academy of Engineering. He also established in perpetuity a Chair Professorship of Innovation in the Engineering Department of the University of Cambridge.
Following his career in creating electrical control switches, Dr Taylor became well-known for his interest in clocks and is one of the world’s leading experts in the work of John Harrison, an early pioneer of timekeeping and sea clocks. This led him to design and help build the Corpus Chronophage, a large, time-eating clock which that stands proud on the exterior of the Taylor Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Dr Taylor donated the clock, alongside a bestowment to make the Taylor Library possible, to his alma mater in order to support bright students of future generations.
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 Hermann Hauser KBE FREng FRS is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of the Silicon Fen cluster. He is a co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners, alongside Anne Glover CBE HonFREng. He has been involved in several successful startups in his time at Amadeus such as CSR plc, Entropic Research Laboratory (which was later acquired by Microsoft) and Icera (acquired by Nvidia in 2011).
His career began famously as the co-founder of Acorn Computers, responsible for the iconic BBC Microcomputer, which led to the development of ARM Holdings, now a global microprocessor giant. He was also founding director at organisations including IQ (Bio), IXI Limited, SynGenix and Advanced Displays Limited.
Hermann was awarded an honorary CBE for innovative service to the UK enterprise sector in 2001 and was made a member of the Government’s Council for Science and Technology in 2004. He has subsequently commissioned to write a report on technology and innovation in the UK by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. In 2015 the then business secretary Sajid Javid bestowed upon Dr Hauser an honorary KBE, in recognition of his valuable services to engineering and industry.
He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012, recognising his contribution to the translation of science into business. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Royal Academy of Engineering from 2002 and holds honorary doctorates from Bath, Loughborough, Anglia Ruskin, Strathclyde, Glasgow and York universities.
“I am a firm believer in the idea that entrepreneurship with supportive venture capital can change the world for the better. Britain has an outstanding track record in computing innovation, and the support of the Enterprise Hub will help to ensure the next generation of highly talented individuals in this space will continue this proud legacy.”
Jeremy is Chief Technology Officer at Cambridge Display Technology. He is one of the three original inventors of P-OLED, the technology used to create digital displays in devices such as TV screens, computer monitors and smart phones.
He played a major role in transforming early permutations of the invention into a fully manufacturable and marketable technology using new device architectures, materials and manufacturing processes - including the direct printing of full colour LED displays.
Jeremy's career has also involved working with Toshiba in the UK and Japan to develop quantum electronic and opto-electronic devices. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2009.
“I believe it’s vital that emerging entrepreneurs with bright ideas in this industry are given the encouragement and direction they need to make a real success of their work. By imparting my knowledge and experience with talented individuals at the Enterprise Hub, I hope to play a significant part in laying the foundations for the long-term growth of technology development in the UK.”
Sir Alan is one of the Academy’s longest-serving Fellows, with an illustrious career across the research and technology industry.
He has a PhD in Electrical engineering and has served on more than twenty company and institution boards as either an executive or non-executive director. These have ranged from start-ups to FTSE 100 companies and include Director of Research and Technology and Deputy Chief Executive of British Telecom, Chairman of WS Atkins and deputy Chairman of Experian Plc. He is currently President of the ERA Foundation.
Sir Alan has served on the British Government’s Committee for Science and Technology and the Strategic Defence Review panel, and as Chairman of both the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Engineering Council.
He is a past President of the IEE (now IET) and a Life Fellow of the IEEE (USA). He has been awarded nine honorary doctorates as well as an OBE (1987) and CBE (1995) before he was knighted in 2000.
Sir Alan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1984.
“Over the past decade my work with the ERA Foundation has included supporting and encouraging young companies at early stages of commercialisation, championing the restoration of UK manufacturing and raising the profile of engineering as an exceptional career – all of which I feel passionately about. We have a strong knowledge base in science and engineering in the UK, and I believe the Enterprise Hub, which brings together this knowledge with entrepreneurial experience, can make an important contribution to the regeneration of our productive industries.”
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.
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.