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.
RoboK Ltd is a Cambridge startup that produces 3D-sensing software for automotive and industrial applications. Its technology uses computer vision and deep learning to enable optimised perception on low-power computing platforms. The company’s technology provides in-depth spatial information to plan paths and avoid collisions.
This low-cost solution brings the safety benefits of machine-learning and decision-making to a wider public. RoboK’s technology is optimised for general-purpose and low-power computing platforms to enable efficient and fast real-time processing. Its perception module will detect and avoid objects for advanced driver assistance systems and is useful for automated navigation, for example automated forklifts and other automated-guided vehicles.
Hao Zheng is the co-founder and CEO of RoboK and is responsible for business and commercialisation. Hao joined the SME Leaders programme in 2020 and is looking forward to participating in topical round-tables and workshops. She says: “I am particularly interested in the training courses and coaching from experienced mentors. The training programmes will help us develop team building and improve commercial negotiations.”
The company is hoping to grow its list of customers and partners. It wants to expand its market range for both automotive and industrial uses to include commercial and agricultural applications.
People with poor control over their bladders increasingly prefer to use intermittent self-catheterisation (ISC) for treatment. This is the procedure where the patients insert catheters via their urethra into their own bladder by themselves.
Thanks to the greater degree of personal independence and lower infection risk there are over 600 million ISC sold each year. However, the regular insertion of catheters can be painful and lead to complications such as urethral damage, bleeding and inflammation.
The lubricant coatings traditionally used on catheters haven't changed in a decade. They tend to dry out quickly, making them less slippery. This means inserting and removing a catheter can become difficult and painful.
Nicola, Professor Colin McCoy and her team at Queen’s University Belfast developed a new coating that is cheaper, more slippery, stays wet longer and adheres strongly to the catheter which eases insertion and reduces damage on removal.
By transforming catheterisation into a quick and painless process patients can easily do themselves, Uroglide is expected to save medical personnel time and, importantly, make a life-changing difference to the dignity and health of patients.
Uroglide is undergoing independent testing and expected to be available for use by patients in healthcare and home settings next year.
“With the training and mentoring provided through my Enterprise Fellowship, I hope to be able to confidently make the transition from the academic environment to the commercial world. I’m keen to develop my entrepreneurial skills and business acumen so that I can effectively drive the expansion of the company.”
Dr David Heath is founder and CEO of Cutitronics Ltd, a spin-out company from the University of Strathclyde. David identified a gap in the market for personalised, adaptive skin care which would harness the power of engineering and technology-based innovation, to support consumers in achieving their desired skincare and beauty results.
Cutitronics offers a menu of patented CutiTron™ technology including assessment of personal skin health, a unique method of automated skin stimulation to enhance topical product absorption and precise personalised product dosage. The technology becomes intuitive through adaptive coaching, supporting the consumer to achieve optimum results.
In August 2017 the company announced a strategic partnership with FTSE 100 Company Croda International plc, who recognised CutiTron™ technology as truly innovative and disruptive for the personal care industry. The partnership will support David and the Cutitronics team to progress their ambitious growth and development plans, taking the technology from prototype to market-ready.
"Breaking into such a huge and established market is both an exciting and challenging prospect. The experience of my mentor, Dr Jeremy Burroughes, will be invaluable in this respect, and gaining this recognition for my technology from the Royal Academy of Engineering stands me in excellent stead to take it to market."
Ben is a research associate at Imperial College London and a founder of MicroTech Ceramic Ltd. The company is producing new catalytic convertor technology to reduce exhaust emissions in vehicles.
Catalytic convertors are used in engines to convert the pollutants in exhaust gas into less toxic pollutants. This is done by using ceramic substrates to connect exhaust gas with the catalyst.
Innovations and advances in this field had plateaued in the last decade, but MicroTech’s system has changed that.
Ben has developed an advanced structure of the substrate that provides a larger surface area for the contact and thereby make it more efficient.
This drastically reduces the quantity of precious metal required in the catalyst and the production cost of the catalytic converter overall.
The new structure also delivers a two to three percent fuel saving and offers high performance
cars an equivalent increase in engine power.
Microtech's system means the size of catalytic convertors can be reduced by around 50%. As this offers engine and exhaust system designers greater freedom, it is a benefit that has already garnered significant interest from the automotive industry.
“Having spent two years beginning to commercialise my technology, I’m now at the stage where the project needs support from experienced and like-minded individuals to develop collaborations, generate funding and fully understand customer needs. With its focus on helping researchers quickly make the transition from academia to operating as a fully-fledged entrepreneur, the Enterprise Hub is the perfect support platform.”
Scientists use atomic force microscopes to examine matter such as biological cells and bacteria at the nanoscale.
Loren set out to develop the fastest one in the world, and achieved this ground-breaking goal in 2014.
His project is unique in that it can map not only the height of the sample surface but also its stiffness and conductance with nanometre resolution.
The microscope has a touch screen interface so that scientists can use ‘multi-touch’ gestures much like on smartphones to interact with samples in real time.
This improves usability, makes analysis quicker.and opens up new ways of manipulating samples. And it lets non-skilled operators control the instrument.
Having already invested significant time in his research at the University of Bristol, Loren is now commercialising the project through his company Bristol NanoDynamics. It promises to be even more of a game-changer in future.
“I have spent the last ten years developing and refining my technology, and now is the time to take this work to the next stage and begin to really revolutionise nanoscale imaging. Working with the Enterprise Hub is the ideal opportunity for me to learn how to do this successfully and ensure it is available to users around the world.”
Dr Kai Yang has developed an everyday fabric-based electrode for wearable medical devices so that stroke sufferers and people in need of pain relief can get electrical stimulation treatment in a far more practical way than ever before.
Traditional electrodes (made from hydrogel) are not ideal for wearable applications as they are sticky, have a limited lifetime, need to be kept in a sealed bag to stop moisture evaporation, and are incompatible with clothing.
Dr Kai Yang's fabric electrode can be applied on the skin directly without using any gel. Everyday fabrics and clothing items such as an arm band or sleeve can have the electrodes added to suit various needs. The fabric-based electrode is comfortable to wear, easy to use, washable and unobtrusive.
The fabric electrode can be used to deliver Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for stroke rehabilitation; TENS for pain relief (e.g. arthritis, back pain, neck pain) and health monitoring (e.g. ECG, EEG, EMG).
As a Principal Investigator, Kai has secured £1.1M research funding from the Medical Research Council for a multi-disciplinary team to develop a wearable FES training system for home based stroke rehabilitation using the fabric electrode together with advanced control and sensor technologies. The FES training system will enable stroke survivors to conduct rehabilitation activities without the need of a carer or therapist.
TG0 has developed a new technology for interactive 3D controls, which enables them to be both intuitive and ergonomic. Most electronic products and dashboards have individual on/off buttons as well as multiple sensors and parts. TG0 has replaced these multi-part electronic interfaces with one flexible touch-sensitive material that works with AI-based algorithms.
Using machine learning and advanced signal processing technology, the company has created a sensing method that can detect touch interactions such as pressure, location, direction, speed and movement on uniform large surfaces. The resulting material technology can be used in tactile gaming controls, car dashboard controls and ergonomic computer accessories such as keyboards.
Dr Liucheng Guo is the Co-Founder and CTO of TG0. He became an SME Leader in 2019 and says that the programme has benefited the company in a number of ways. “Thanks to the leadership training and mentoring, I have rethought and realigned our technical strategies with business requirements. The networking has been especially productive, as it found us a collaborator who has helped secure an InnovateUK funding.”
Now, TG0 is selling directly to consumers. The company has developed a new VR controller called etee, which it launched on Kickstarter. The lightweight device fits onto a person’s fingers and manoeuvres around the VR environment through touch, proximity, pressure and gestures. It can be used for both gaming and medical applications.
Daniel is the inventor of RHEON™ and CTO of RHEON LABS.
RHEON is a revolutionary mouldable material that is capable of absorbing high levels of energy in impact, tension and vibration. It uses a property known as strain-rate dependency to allow this material to be flexible in normal wearing, but to stiffen instantaneously and temporarily when subject to an acute energy input. It can be moulded directly onto clothing, incorporated into the fabric as a thread or coating, or laminated onto a material and is both breathable and washable.
Daniel has worked in the field of energy absorbing systems and their applications for over 15 years, including specialisation work in smart textiles for NASA and sitting on the London 2012 Olympic committee. During his PhD, the fellowship and throughout his work since has built up a significant portfolio of patents which are now being exploited for the sports sector through RHEON LABS Ltd.
The scientists, engineers and designers at RHEON LABS are already engaged with best-in-class brands across a wide spectrum of sports apparel, collaborating with some of the biggest names to integrate RHEON™ into their products to enhance the performance, comfort and protection.
Poised now for rapid growth, Daniel and RHEON LABS are building a team to widen the commercialisation of this exciting technology. Whilst the initial focus is on the sports-apparel sector, there are significant opportunities for applying this potentially life-saving technology in several other sectors such as electronics, healthcare and defence.
“For me, the opportunity to work for an extended period with one product and a single focus is very welcome. The highly relevant and focused mentorship, and the prestige of growing my business under the Academy scheme, is too good an opportunity to ignore.”
Jon has developed software to help drug developers predict the effects of new drugs on auto-immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
His software is capable of integrating far more data and concepts than the systems currently used by drug developers creating clinical trials of new products. The increased data input through Jon's system results in improved confidence in computer simulations, cost savings and quicker speed to market for new drug releases.
Jon is Professor of Intelligent and Adaptive Systems at the University of York, where his research focuses on building computer models of immune function in the human body. He is the founder of SimOmics, a spin out of the University of York, which is expanding on these developments.
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.