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.
Notpla is the name of both a material and a company that aims to significantly reduce plastic waste with a range of packaging solutions that naturally biodegrade in weeks.
50% of plastic packaging is used once and thrown away and estimates suggest that plastics can take several centuries to decompose. Notpla is a sustainable plastic alternative that biodegrades naturally in 4-6 weeks. It is made from plants and brown seaweed, a fast-growing, naturally renewable resource.
Co-CEO, Pierre Paslier, had a central role in developing Notpla’s first product, the Ooho, an edible, biodgegradable packaging solution used for beverages and sauces. Ideal for on-the-go consumption, Oohos can replace plastic cups and bottles at festivals and sporting events. It was recently trialled for removing single use plastics from the Virgin Money London Marathon.
With Oohos gathering market traction, SME Leader Pierre is developing a strategy to support industrialisation, increasing sales and new product development. Notpla’s future packaging solutions include heat-sealable films, take-away containers sachets and nets. Training and mentoring will support Pierre as the company scales up with a view to reaching a production of 1 million Oohos per month by the end of 2020.
Visit Notpla's website here.
Best practice in patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) in research and technology is essential for healthcare researchers and institutions. Currently it relies on costly, manual and time-consuming processes, as well as unstandardised quantification practices that impact funding and research.
Approximately £6.3 billion is spent each year in the UK and USA on healthcare research and development (R&D) that requires PPIE. However up to 72% of funding applications are rejected for not meeting PPIE standards such as lacking in overall research quality or methodology that patient/public insights could have improved. There is no infrastructure for quantifying PPIE data and associated R&D impact to improve future outcomes.
Dr Amber Hill, a translational neuroscientist, software engineer and entrepreneur, has developed software called R.grid by , to streamline PPIE activities and quantify its impact in healthcare R&D.
R.grid software digitalises human-centred design and data in healthcare and engineering. It supports researchers and institutions with tools to create, manage and implement the delivery of PPIE activities that save money, increase efficiency, and improve research.
R.grid can support savings of up to 91% by reducing the levels of investment needed to develop high-quality PPIE (£30,000 to £70,000+ per research department and several million GBP for institutions). These funds can be reallocated or reinvested in key research protocols, while engaging stakeholders, improving further funding opportunities and improving research.
Amber draws on her experience across healthcare research, software engineering, digital strategy development and social engagement to accelerate the development and scale of R.grid technology in preparation for its public launch.
Dr Hill was awarded a 2018 Enterprise Fellowship to support her in developing and launching R.grid’s technology to the public.
Companies dedicate lots of time and resources to innovating breakthrough products, yet a large majority of consumer packaged goods product launches fail: estimates suggest up to 90%. Solutions for mapping markets, consumer patterns and their complex relationships can help uncover new insights and support the creative thinking needed for successful innovation.
Klydo has developed a tool that provides innovation insights using artificial intelligence (AI). Its platform provides consumer brands with the market intelligence needed to accelerate product innovation, by using algorithms that enable a quantitative approach in what is traditionally qualitative research.
The technology aims to support and enhance creative thinking in any team. It works by combining machine learning with data visualisation to bring existing online information to life in creative and user-friendly ways.
Current approaches to market research can be expensive and time-consuming, typically lasting two to three months. Klydo’s technology works in real-time to offer differentiating perspectives, reveal unmade connections, and expose patterns and trends. This helps companies to more easily and efficiently build new products, make smarter, strategic decisions and improve innovation roadmapping.
Nick Schweitzer, CEO and Co-Founder, got the
idea to develop the technology based on an interest in how to engineer the
creative spark behind innovation. Klydo’s technology brings together diverse
interests and expertise in fields such as design thinking, psychology and AI.
It currently sells to leading brands such as Unilever, with others in line to
trial the platform.
Nick Schweitzerwas awarded a 2018 Enterprise Fellowship to continue developing the technology and support a growing team at Klydo. Klydo is also supported by Venture Capitalists Episode 1 and True.
Director of Innovation, Footfalls and Heartbeats
Footfalls and Heartbeats is a start-up developing smart textiles for use in a wide range of industries. Its innovative solutions integrate sensing systems into fabrics to create intelligent wearables that are comfortable and durable. One of the start-up’s first products is a pressure-responsive bandage for use in the treatment of venous leg ulcers (VLUs).
VLUs affect approximately 3% of the global adult population causing pain, swelling and reduced mobility. Compression therapy is the recommended treatment but its effectiveness is limited by lack of awareness and patient discomfort both of which lead to poor compliance. Footfalls and Heartbeats’ solution is a customised bandage with embedded sensors that allow responsive, real-time pressure monitoring. This can improve treatment of VLUs by helping to ensure that the correct pressure is applied during compression therapy. A wearable method to do this currently does not exist.
Director of Innovation, Fern Kelly, leads in developing the start-up’s product innovation pipeline which involves end-to-end strategic planning as its technologies are customised for commercialisation. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme, Fern aims to strengthen skills in leadership and negotiation to help with establishing the commercial partnerships needed for Footfalls and Heartbeats to brings its first products to market.
Visit Footfalls & Heartbeat's website here.
Over four million cosmetic and aesthetic procedures are performed each year globally. Of these, 17% are facial rejuvenation treatments such as wrinkle and fine line removal.
Popular as the treatments are, the current options for patients are quite limited. Facial rejuvenation entails the use of laser, intense pulsed light (IPL), dermal fillers (such as botox and collagen), dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, chemical peels or radio frequency therapy.
Research has shown that patients have issues with each of these options. The size of treatment zones, lack of fine depth control, levels of discomfort, recovery times and anaesthetic requirements are a real problem.
Dr Thomas Frame leads the development of a new approach that does away with most of these issues: the Halo System.
Created by start-up Fourth State Medicine (4SM), the Halo System is a cosmetic enhancement technology that does away with fine lines and wrinkles by removing the top layer of the epidermis and causing contraction of the layers below. It has significant benefits over existing treatments including reduced scarring, quicker recovery and less discomfort.
The Halo system is in development at the Surrey Space Centre and was inspired by the electric propulsion technology used to drive spacecraft. It has been successfully demonstrated by Broomfield Hospitals Histology, and 4SM has worked with the University of Manchester to demonstrate that the ‘Halo effect’ provided by the system promotes wound healing which reduces patient scarring and recovery times.
The technology is also being used to develop a wound sterilisation system that reduces bacteria impact and scars with faster recovery. Initial tests with the University of Manchester’s Hardman Group laboratories have had impressive results: more than 95% of Methicillion-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and the resistant strain MRSA bacteria were killed by the treatment.
Chief Technical Officer and Co-Founder, LettUs Grow Ltd
Efficient and sustainable processes for irrigation and control are transforming food production in urban environments. LettUs Grow has developed a patent-pending aeroponic technology that delivers higher yields in vertical farms and greenhouses. When combined with the company’s integrated farm management software, it provides farmers with a hassle-free way of optimising crop conditions.
LettUs Grow’s aeroponic farming technology can be used in vertical farms to grow plants without soil, by watering their roots with a fine mist. This results in greater crop yields, while using less water and not compromising quality or taste.
Ben Crowther, Chief Technical Officer, leads the development of LettUs Grow’s technology. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme, he has taken part in leadership training to gain essential management skills at a time of rapid growth. Since receiving the award in 2018, he has increased staff numbers from eight to 19. The company has also closed a £2.35 million seed investment round and received funding from Innovate UK.
In 2020, LettUs Grow completed a world-leading aeroponic research centre that will be a test-bed for optimising the operation of vertical farms for its customers. This will help the company as it starts to deliver projects across the UK and Europe, supporting its goal of being an established name in the indoor farming industry.
Musical expression is challenging. When it comes to capturing and translating our musical impulses, existing tools and controllers can be frustrating and limited. Capturing ideas via traditional MIDI devices can be rewarding but also slow and counterintuitive.
As CEO of the start-up Vochlea Music (VM), innovator George Wright has developed an audio engine that can understand vocally produced sounds, and uses these to control live instrumentation.
Vochlea’s audio engine learns the voice of the user; tracking pitch, expression and multiple other parameters to convert their voice into the ultimate MIDI controller.
By harnessing the potential of our voices, the VM audio engine can help amateur and professional music producers alike, to creatively prototype new sounds and songs.
Vochlea Music is continuing to develop their tools powered whilst working in collaboration with Abbey Road Studios.
They are preparing to launch the Dubler Studio Kit with integrated software and bespoke microphone that allows anyone to easily and intuitively create, control and manipulate audio samples and instrumentation.
George was awarded a 2017 RAEng 1851 Royal Commission Enterprise Fellowship to further develop Vochlea and support his work in bringing technologies powered by it to market.
"The Enterprise Hub has connected me to a mentor with strong links in music production. I’ve also valued having access to the new Taylor Centre - it’s a smart, professional, well-located space that has been hugely helpful for mobile entrepreneurs and innovators like me."
There are 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK and children are the fastest-growing user group. For many wheelchair users, comfort and independent use is restricted because of poor postural support.
Poor posture impacts a child’s ability to breathe, swallow and communicate, affecting physical health and deterring them from socially engaging with the world comfortably and independently. There are over 70,000 young wheelchair users in the UK and parents with a disabled child spend an average of £200 million annually on specialist equipment.
Aergo has developed responsive, postural support seating for young wheelchair users. It uses pressure-sensitive inflatable supports that react to a user’s position to reinforce posture.
Aergo’s cost-effective solution works by inflating or deflating separate cells to achieve a natural and responsive form of support. Controlled either by the user or automatically, the technology increases independence by reducing the need for manual repositioning.
Current solutions are bulky and expensive. Some use straps and wedges to fix users into a single position, which restrict movement. This can lead to poor blood circulation and an increased likelihood of developing pressure ulcers. For children with cerebral palsy, scoliosis and paraplegia, Aergo posture support is adaptable for use in a variety of chairs and buggies, and expands in width for longer-term use.
Working with a special educational needs school inspired Sheana Yu, Founder and CEO, to find better ways to support children to interact with their environment. This led to the development of the seating technology, Sheana now leads the startup in finalising designs to comply with safety standards. The aim is to launch Aergo seating to market by 2020.
Sheana Yu was awarded the 2018 Enterprise Fellowship to continue developing this technology and her startup Aergo.
The ability to manipulate sound waves could lead to new opportunities and products in a wide range of sectors, from medical imaging to improved building acoustics. Achieving this is a challenge as many current technologies are large, inefficient and expensive.
Metasonics’ new technology can focus, sculpt and direct soundwaves in real time, bringing enhanced control and new functionality to sound.
Similar to how a projector transforms a single light beam into a vast and varied image, the technology can make a single speaker sound like hundreds of individual speakers. It uses acoustic metamaterials, and is a cost-effective, compact and scalable solution with the potential to disrupt a range of sectors.
The patented technology easily and flexibly manipulates sound and can be adapted to different contexts and environments. It also has lower power consumption, so increases the applications of a single device.
Sectors that could benefit include building and architecture where the technology can be used for effective sound insulation. Metasonics filters (such as sound-proof windows) are suitable for places where light and air flow are beneficial, yet external noise levels are an obstacle.
It could also improve ultrasonic testing for non-destructive safety evaluation in structures such as bridges, aircrafts and power stations. The ultrasound technology also opens up new possibilities in medical therapies and diagnostics. Metasonics’ solutions can improve the quality and detail in non-invasive imaging and help to tailor therapies such as high-intensity-focused ultrasound, which is used to reduce tumours and in various fat reduction and plastic surgeries.
Metasonics initial market focus is silence through smart engineering within the automotive sector. Its technology can provide more effective and efficient control strategies to help improve comfort and sound insulation inside a vehicle cockpit.
In consumer or other more complex markets, Metasonics’ technology shares a common goal: increase efficiency and cost reduction for end users. Current and future products encompass proprietary designs, which yield substantial benefits over competitive products, enable new applications and open up new markets.
Dr Mihai Caleap, CEO, has a multidisciplinary background and leads the startup in optimising designs and prototyping with a view to creating the first spatial sound modulator for shaping and manipulating sound.
Dr Caleap was awarded a 2018 Enterprise Fellowship to provide him with time to develop Metasonics’ technology and support the company’s growth.
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 Robert Sansom FREng is an experienced angel investor and mentor to technology-based startup businesses in the UK and US.
He is the founder of the Cambridge Angels, a group of expert technology and biotechnology entrepreneurs who invest in and mentor technology startups across the UK.
Robert serves on the board of several startups including Arachnys Information Services, Cambridge Communication Systems, CRFS, Featurespace, IQGeo plc, Myrtle Software, and Netronome Systems. Prior to becoming an angel investor, he co-founded FORE Systems, a leader in high-speed data communications, where he was Chief Technical Officer. Fore Systems went public on NASDAQ in 1994 and was sold to Marconi plc in 1999.
Robert was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2010.
“Through my career I’ve built up considerable experience taking knowledge-based technology business from initial idea through to becoming successful businesses. I’d like to help a new generation of technology entrepreneurs do the same, and the Enterprise Hub is an excellent platform for me to do this.”
Steve is a leading expert with over 35 years of experience.in the fields of semiconductor device research, nanotechnology and millimetre-wave integrated circuit design.
After founding and leading the Nanoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, he co-founded and became Technical Director of Intellemetrics Ltd. His enterprising spirit continued with the foundation of Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd in 2001.
Steve became Vice-Principal for Research and Enterprise at the University of Glasgow in 2005 where e is responsible for the University’s research strategy and policies. These includes key relations with research sponsors and strategic partners. He also heads up the University’s enterprise activities which has a strong focus on research links with industry and the promotion of spinout companies.
Steve was awarded an OBE for services to the field of nanotechnology in the 2002 Jubilee Honours List and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2007.
“Encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship in technology and engineering requires a genuine link up and sharing of knowledge between research partners and industry. The Enterprise Hub is a key part of this, sharing enterprising expertise with individuals who have an incredible amount of technical talent, and providing the links to springboard their success in the industry.”
Paul Excell is an award-winning entrepreneur, investor and global executive leader with an impressive track record of delivering growth and transformation in startups, scale-ups, global corporates and is passionate about social mobility. He is Chief Operating Officer and Non-Executive Director at ScaleUp Group™️, providing tech scaleups with unique insights from successful entrepreneurs with over $4 billion in exits plus patient equity/debt growth funding (£2 million to £20 million). He has six tech clients in the growth portfolio, and his clients have raised £30 million to date.
In addition to this, Paul is Co-Founder and Chair of Global iLabs, Founder and CEO of Excelerate™️ and Non-Executive Director with Knowledge Gateway (University of Essex). He acts as a judge and mentor for the UK Enterprise Awards and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Launchpad Innovation Award and SME Leaders.
Paul was previously Chief Customer Innovation Officer, Chief Operating Officer/Group Technology Officer, SVP[PS1] Global at BT, Chair/member of several business Boards (UK and Spain, Nordics, AsiaPac) and sat on BT Group Board committees on Technology, Risk and Diversity. He was an Engineering Council Board member and acted as advisor to UN Secretary General on sustainability, technology and innovation.
He started his career as an apprentice and is now a chartered engineer (CEng), Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET), the Chartered Institute for IT (FBCS) and Court Liveryman, Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.
Suranga has long experience as an engineer and entrepreneur. He founded Blinkx - an intelligent search engine for video and audio content - in 2004. He led Blinkx as CEO for eight years as well as taking it public in 2007. He is widely regarded as an expert on the convergence of the web, television and online advertising.
Before his work with Blinkx, Suranga was US Chief Technology Officer of Autonomy where he was mentored by Mike Lynch and led the effort to enable Autonomy’s software to work in highly distributed environments. Suranga joined Balderton as a General Partner in 2014.
An accomplished speaker and commentator on the overlap between technology and media, Suranga has been elected by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders. He was also included in the Top 10 leaders in Science and Innovation by The Observer’s Future 500 list, and was a recipient of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Silver Medal in 2012. Suranga was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2012.
“The real high-growth value companies are currently all in the tech space. In order for these businesses to reach their potential, it’s vital that they can benefit from the guidance of those with experience.”
Anne is a prominent venture capitalist and European technology investor who has been Chief Executive of Amadeus Capital Partners from 1997. As a co-founder in the organisation, Anne’s role combines her experience as a scientist, operating manager and venture capitalist.
Anne began her career in manufacturing with Cummins Engine Company before moving into investment as a business angel. She was also Chief Operating Officer of Virtuality Group, which had been one of her investee companies.
Anne has held a number of high profile advisory positions, having served as Chairman of the British Venture Capital Association in 2004, and as a non-executive director of the UK Technology Strategy Board from 2005-2012. In 2008 Anne led the establishment of the Glover advisory committee for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, reporting on government procurement from SMEs. She is also a member of the European Research and Innovation Advisory Board. Anne was awarded a CBE for services to business in 2006 and was elected an Honourary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2008.
“There is a long-standing need for science to engage more proactively with policy-makers and business. The Enterprise Hub is playing a big part in addressing this, by bridging the gap between outstanding academic talent and influential figures in the industry to ensure the UK’s ongoing international success in science and technology.”
John is a highly experienced executive and senior consultant across the oil and gas, renewable energy and digital technology sectors, as well as a member of many international boards. He has significant interest in the commercial and technology challenges that energy transition presents, especially as these intersect with corporations’ digital transformation.
John is currently Chair of the Gresham House Energy Storage Fund Board, which specialises in the commercialisation of grid-level storage investments. The company is now the largest energy storage fund in the UK and is the market leader. In November 2018, the company listed on LSE at £100 million and at the end of 2020 had a market cap of around £250 million; it is on a strong growth trajectory and should double in size over the next 24 months.
Until April 2019, John was an advisor to the Board of ACWA Power International (Riyadh), the largest independent power producer in Saudi Arabia. Until December 2017, he was on the Board of the ASX-listed Carnegie Clean Energy, based in Perth, WA. He is also an investor and Board member of Global Integrity, a cybersecurity software and cyber consultancy firm based in Washington DC.
John spent more than 25 years working at BP, the last 10 of which were spent at the corporate executive level in various roles including:
In his early career, John worked on the design and construction of nuclear power generation plants in UK.
Since leaving BP, John has been active as a senior advisor to blue chip global consultants specialising in the energy sector, energy transition and corporate digital transformation.
John serves on the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Committee.
Professor Norman Apsley OBE FREng recently retired from 18 years as founding Chief Executive of Catalyst Inc (formerly Northern Ireland Science Park), steering the organisation from idea to reality. The NI Science Park was a key first step to transform the near derelict H&W shipyard into the innovation district for Belfast. He had spent the previous two decades at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (now QinetiQ Malvern), where he had researched a wide variety of microwave and optical devices, publishing some 70 scientific papers and patents during his scientific career. He joined management in 1990, rising to Director Electronics and Site Director for the Malvern cluster in the then Defence Research and Evaluation Agency by 1995.
In 2011, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, just as he finished his term as Vice-President (Business and Innovation) of the Institute of Physics. He has been an active Enterprise Committee member from the beginning and continues to contribute to its various programmes as reviewer, mentor and on steering groups, most lately the SME Leaders’ Award.
Norman also supports the international work of the Academy. In 2018, he became Chair of the Academy’s Newton-funded project, Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF), which works in all 16 Newton Fund countries. Alongside in-country partners, LIF helps innovators with technology to tackle their country’s sustainable development goals launch startups. Over the past few years, LIf fellows have been built into a thousand strong, peer-to-peer support group across the world.
At home, Norman chairs the Local Economic Development Company serving South and East Antrim and consults occasionally for both public and private sector. In 2012, Norman was awarded an OBE for his contributions to science and economic development. In 2019, the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (Econ Sci) was conferred by Queens University Belfast. In the same year, he was awarded the Max Rainey Medal for service to the Polymer Industry of Northern Ireland. He is looking forward to Belfast becoming the first (of many) spokes to the Enterprise Hub.
"(Engineering) entrepreneurs are typically rich with ideas, energy and enthusiasm but cash poor. They cannot afford the quality help they need to find the right business model for their idea, discovery or invention. Pro Bono support from Fellows from their experience and from their “black books” helps speed the process and leads to increased innovation.”
Professor Neville Jackson FREng has spent nearly 40 years in industrial R&D, primarily in transport and energy systems. He has experience in managing complex R&D portfolios and spinning out new technologies into commercially funded startups.
He currently chairs both the RAC Foundation and the Institute of Digital Engineering Advisory Board and is also a non-executive director of the UK Advanced Propulsion Centre. He also chairs the Royal Academy of Engineering’s steering group for the Increasing engineering business R&D investment project. He has been a member of the UK Automotive Council since it was formed and is a member of the Strategy Team, chairing the R&D/Horizon Scanning working group.
From 2009 until 2019 he was Chief Technology and Innovation Officer for Ricardo plc. He has co-ordinated and authored a wide range of technology roadmaps at national and European level, defining the potential, and technology pathways for transport energy, propulsion systems, future vehicle electrical/electronic architectures and digitalisation/virtual product development.
A graduate of Imperial College London, he is also a visiting professor at the University of Brighton. His past roles have included Chairman of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, a six-year term as a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network, Vice Chair of the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC) and a member of the Industry Delegation for the European Green Vehicles Initiative (EGVI). He is also a Fellow of the US SAE and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2011.
Saeed is Technical Director at the prosthetic manufacturer Blatchford, winners of the 2016 RAEng MacRobert Award.
He has built a highly successful career based on outstanding innovation, product development and scientific research in the field of prosthetics. His work saw the company shortlisted for the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award in 2010.
Saeed has provided invaluable advice to emerging innovators in his field, such as negotiating with investors, creating new business cases and establishing alternative investment return strategies, IP issues, and how to identify new needs and opportunities in the market to develop a road map of future products.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2012.