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.
Former Inaugural Chair of the Enterprise Committee and a long-standing Academy Fellow, Ian Shott CBE FREng has played a prominent role in establishing the Enterprise Hub. His track record of helping businesses in the engineering and life science sectors transform their approach and improve their vision, ambition, business models and enterprise value is an invaluable resource.
Ian is the Founder and former Executive Chair of contract pharmaceutical development and manufacturing company ARCINOVA, which he sold to Quotient Sciences in February 2021 and continues as Senior Advisor to the board. Ian is also the Managing Director at investment and advisory firm Shott Trinova. Prior to his specialist investment work at Shott Trinova, Ian was the founder and CEO of Excelsyn, which was sold to an American multinational in 2010. Earlier in his career he held numerous senior executive positions at multinational life science companies across the globe.
Ian has a wealth of experience with major industry bodies. He is formerly the Chair of the UK government’s Leadership Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and a Governing Board Member of Innovate UK. Ian is also Visiting Professor at Oxford, Nottingham and Newcastle universities.
“Apart from a deep-seated passion to change the entrepreneurial landscape in the UK and rediscover our legacy from the industrial revolution, I am highly excited by the prospect of engaging with new young talent and using my experience to accelerate and amplify their success. I’ve been involved in mentoring for over a decade but believe the Hub offers a very special opportunity to work with the brightest and best”.
Andy’s career in industry has involved co-founding over a dozen spin-outs and start-ups, three of which floated on stock markets. Virata floated on NASDAQ and at its peak had a market capitalisation of $5 billion.
His most prominent successes have come through RealVNC, which won the prestigious MacRobert Award in 2013, and Ubisense plc. Collectively, these two organisations have received five Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.
In academia, Andy heads the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory and is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall and Corpus Christi College. Elsewhere, he served as President of the IET between 2012 and 2013, and in 2007 received a CBE for services to the computer industry.
Andy is co-founder and Chairman of pioneering remote access software developers RealVNC and is also Professor of Computer Technology at the University of Cambridge. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1996.
“My own career experiences have demonstrated just how important it is that the bridges between academia and industry are present and robust, and also what can be achieved when the relationship works to its potential. The Enterprise Hub offers an invaluable opportunity for exceptional academics to work with experienced industry figures and bring truly exciting new technology businesses to fruition.”
Naeem Alvi is an award-winning brand strategist and the founder of Notepad. After years of helping fast-growth SMEs and big brands such as Nike, Adidas and RBS Natwest to better leverage their brand, Naeem founded Notepad to connect big brand experience with ambitious tech companies that want to define and scale up their brands effectively and affordably.
Recent achievements include:
John is Professor of Optoelectronic Systems and Dean of transnational Education at the University of Glasgow.
He moved to Glasgow in 1986, where he established an internationally leading research group addressing linear and nonlinear integrated optoelectronic systems. He developed new integration technologies for photonic integrated circuits based on quantum well devices and quantum well intermixing, which ultimately led to the formation of the spin-out company Intense Ltd in 2000.
Intense developed the world’s most advanced integrated laser systems, bringing monolithic laser arrays together with electronic ASICs and optics for precise energy delivery in a range of applications from printing to material processing. The monolithic laser arrays pushed reliability and manufacturing yields to new levels.
John has extensive experience of operating in both academic and high-technology industrial environments, and as a result has an excellent understanding of spinning out IP and creating commercial value from an academic base.
He has been involved with several start-up companies including Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd (1997-2000); Compound Semiconductor Technologies Ltd (1999-2000) and Intense Ltd (now Intense Inc) (2000-2009).
John was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2007; Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) in 2000; Fellow of IEEE (FIEEE) in 2000 ‘for contributions to development of integrated optics based on semiconductor quantum well devices’; and Fellow of the Optical Society (FOSA) in 2016 for ‘for contributions to quantum and photonics technologies and systems in III-V compound semiconductors’.
Alastair is Head of Analytics and Machine Learning at MDRxTECH, Mishcon de Reya's digital transformation consultancy.
Alastair is a UCL Computer Science PhD with a background in computer vision, analytics, machine learning, blockchain, strategy, and technology innovation. He is an experienced manager and entrepreneur who has built teams in both large and small organisations. He is regularly called upon to audit, evaluate and provide guidance to large scale technology programmes for MDRxTECH clients. An entrepreneurial and dynamic problem solver, Alastair co-founded Satalia, which builds and applies AI technology to solve efficiency problems for organisations such as Tesco and PwC. He also co-founded the venture backed WeArePopUp.com, and helped establish the IDEALondon innovation centre with Cisco Systems.
Alastair continues to maintain an active teaching role in the UCL School of Management (MSc Business Analytics) and Peking University, Beijing (MBA Technology Strategy). His research interests include technology strategy, blockchain, smart contracting and computational law.
Brewster Barclay has been selling, marketing and product managing for more than 40 years in a wide variety of high technology industries including printed circuit boards, both manufacturing processes and capital equipment, 3D circuit boards, online advertising, optical sensors, military chip packaging, radar tubes and software engineering services. Brewster has worked at Zuhlke Engineering, e2v technologies, Clicktream Technologies, Orbotech and PCK Technology Kollmorgen.
The experience of launching new products and almost six years running an internet advertising startup led to Brewster giving back in the form of mentoring early stage and growth startups. He identified a massive gap in business development, sales support and strategy that angels, accelerators and VCs give to startups. He has focused solely on sharing his experiences in business development sales, sales techniques and the practicalities of day to day sales and lead generation.
He has mentored at the Royal Academy of Engineering for the past seven years as well as for Accelerate Cambridge, Seraphim Space Capital and many other groups.
Vida is a behavioural change coach with over seven years’ experience helping people think differently and positively change lives. She helps people to build connection and balance in order to create a sustainable future for themselves, others and the world. Vida does this as a speaker, trainer and coach, focusing on wellbeing, self-care, belief change, and motivation.
Having worked in prisons and schools as well as the public sector with non-clinical NHS staff and private sector for companies such Telefónica and Wavin, she has a unique insight to share.
Professor Alison Noble is the Technikos Professor of Biomedical Engineering, in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford, and Associate Head of MPLS Division. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society (2017), the Royal Academy of Engineering (2008) and the President of the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Interventions (MICCAI) Society, the international society in biomedical image analysis.
Alison’s research interests are in computer analysis of clinical and biological images and the development and translation into clinical practice of novel methodologies that provide new diagnostic and therapeutic image based biomarkers and software tools for image-based quantification and decision-making. Her research group works in close collaboration with clinicians and industry players. She is also a Founder and the Chief Technology Officer of a university spin-out company that is commercialising research from her laboratory (Intelligent Ultrasound Ltd).
She returned to Oxford as a University Lecturer in 1995 to set up a biomedical image analysis group. Biomedical image analysis has since grown to be the largest biomedical engineering activity in Oxford.
Alison has played a leading role in setting up the biomedical engineering undergraduate and postgraduate biomedical engineering teaching and training (MSc and CDT) programmes at Oxford over the last decade. She is a member of both the Oxford University’s Research and Education Committees (from Oct 2013), and has served or currently serves on a number of committees of the Royal Academy of Engineering and other national organisations as well as numerous research funding agency panels.
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).