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.
Loudspeakers are used in billions of devices worldwide including smartphones, laptops, tablets and smart speakers. For nearly 100 years, the dominant technology to reproduce sound has been the dynamic loudspeaker. One of the main mechanisms it uses is the voice coil transducer, a very simple device that also has significant drawbacks in terms of electrics, mechanics and acoustics.
Dominika Behounik is Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of Arya Audio Labs. The company was formed with Arthur Marker to develop audio products. One of these was the AirBlade transducer. Instead of trying to incrementally improve a 100-year old imperfect design, it approached the problem from a different, disruptive angle.
Rather than using a heavy diaphragm with separate voice coil, the AirBlade transducer incorporates ultralight ring-shaped foil elements arranged in layers with conductive traces of aluminium bonded to it. When an electrical signal is applied, opposite layers of the diaphragm either move towards or away from each other depending on the direction of the current, thereby moving air and creating sound.
By distributing the diaphragm area over several layers and implementing a curved shape, AirBlade avoids the typical beaming problem of traditional drivers while achieving higher power handling, reduced distortion and better air coupling due to its large diaphragm surface area. The transducer’s radiation pattern can also be tailored to specific requirements of the application it is driving.
Arya Audio Labs has manufactured in-house since its inception. It uses advanced prototyping tools including 3D printing, 5 axis CNC machines and state-of-the-art measurement facilities. The company started shipping the AirBlade directly to customers at the beginning of 2020 and it proved a very popular seller. It is now looking for ways to improve and speed up the processes to help deliver highest quality products.
The audio market has been on the rise for the past couple of years, with an abundance of streaming services available as well as vinyl records experiencing a come-back. The company’s technology has been especially well received at the high end of the market and in the automotive audio sectors, two markets that are worth over £1 billion a year alone.
Dominika says of the Enterprise Fellowship: “I come from an academic background, where it’s natural to focus your efforts on developing technology and forget that you are actually trying to run a business! The Fellowship has given me an excellent opportunity to shift that mindset, and strike a good balance between the two.”
– Arya Audio Labs debuts at High End Munich as a Newcomer
2018 – First product, RevOpod, starts shipping
2019 – RevOpod receives Best of 2018 award by Mono and Stereo
2019 – AirBlade loudspeaker starts shipping to original equipment manufacturing partners
2020 – AirBlade loudspeaker becomes available for end customers
Visit their website: www.arya-audio.com
Additive manufacturing (AM) has opened up new ways to make smart industrial products. However, the aeronautic and automotive industries often produce parts using design software that pre-dates 3D printing. New design software was required that would be flexible enough to keep up with ongoing advances in AM.
Dr Francesco Montomoli, a Reader in Computational Aerodynamics at Imperial College London, worked on the idea for new design software for AM with PhD students Audrey Gaymann and Marco Pietropaoli. After three years’ work they had made enough breakthroughs and generated sufficient interest to launch TOffeeAM Ltd to commercialise their code.
The company’s software uses innovative mathematical modeling to design and improve components used in aircraft and car engines. It is able to explore geometric complexities within systems and has already been used to develop new designs for heat exchangers, fuel nozzles and valves. The heat transfer capabilities of TOffeeAM allows the code to be robust and accurate for aerospace applications. The interactive capabilities of their system means that it can work up to 20 times faster than existing design tools. By making components more resilient, lighter and more robust it can make some products 40% more fuel efficient.
The company has already been used to make components for world-leading AM businesses like General Electric Aviation and Baker Hughes. TOffeeAM is now aiming to consolidate its place in aviation and automotive industries while seeing if other fields, such as oil and gas, will also exploit this new resource.
Dr Montomoli says: “The Enterprise Fellowship has given us a great opportunity to learn from experienced people in several fields, from marketing to IP. An added bonus is being able to engage with the other fellows, sharing common challenges and opportunities.
Accepted onto Imperial College London’s Techcelerate programme
2018 Co-founder Marco Pietropaoli made an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Prize Fellowship
2019 Co-founder Audrey Gaymann made an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Prize Fellowship
2019 AWS Programmable prize
2020 Entrepreneur First invest £80,000 to help launch the company
Visit their website: www.toffeeam.co.uk
A patented technology developed at CCm Technologies Ltd. can safely take CO2 and use it to make valuable products such as fertilisers and replacement plastics. This highly adaptable, environmental technology can be used in waste management plants and industrial power generators, adding value by improving the efficiency and environmental sustainability of their processes.
CCm Technologies takes a different approach to segmenting and using CO2. When incorporated into waste management systems their technology cleverly combines CO2 with other waste streams to produce new materials, driving efficiency.
As CEO, Pawel leads CCm Technologies in developing robust partnerships in key markets to benefit from the technology. For example, in agriculture CCm Technologies use the large amounts of waste generated in farming as a resource, bringing it together with CO2 captured from power generators to produce fertiliser for crops.
As the company expands, Pawel will draw on significant experience in financial services and use the SME Leaders Programme for support and advice as he leads CCm Technologies in translating their commercialisation strategy into growth. This includes the launch of the company’s first full-scale commercial units that have capacity to produce 10,000 tonnes of fertiliser per year.
For a lot of applications, biobased chemicals have enhanced functionality compared to chemically produced products. However, biochemicals produced by fermentation require large volume vessels to make them, owing to the slow conversion of raw materials with the microorganisms used. This makes them much more expensive to produce and so they tend to only be used for niche applications.
Dr Ben Dolman, Co-Founder and CEO of Holiferm, has helped develop gravity-based separation technology that dramatically reduces the cost of production of lipid bioproducts, particularly biosurfactants. Most surfactants used in the cosmetic industry are irritants, and many in the agricultural market are toxic endocrine disruptors, with bans coming into place for some of these surfactants.
Dr Dolman says: “By using gravity, Holiferm’s new technology requires less energy and no solvents. The new process allows us to recover insoluble lipids from the production vessel as they are produced, alongside major improvements in the fermentation process. This has enabled us to reduce the vessel volume fourfold, reducing production costs by more than 50%.”
Holiferm recently agreed its first technology license with a leading surfactant company. The company is now raising investment to build its first commercial plant producing over 1,000 tonnes of biosurfactant a year.
Dr Dolman says: “The financial contribution from the Enterprise Fellowship has enabled us to accelerate Holiferm’s growth and provided the financial security required for raising our first venture capital investment round. The business support has also helped to solidify our commercialisation plans, moving towards the construction of the commercial production facility we are currently fundraising for.”
2018 – Dr Dolman and Dr James Winterburn awarded £10,000 for winning the ‘Early Career’ category of the BBSRC’s Innovator of the Year awards
2018 – Technology demonstrated at pilot scale at three commercial collaborator sites
2018 – First commercial license of Holiferm technology
2019– £200,000 follow-on funding from Innovate UK
2019 – ICOS Capital confirm investment in Holiferm
2020 – Multiple joint application development projects with financial contributions from major surfactant producers and formulators
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.”
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
For the growing number of industries reliant on more intelligent knowledge systems, advanced tools can help with making better sense of big data. GRAKN.AI achieves this with their knowledge graph technology that enables fast and efficient management of datasets that are too complex for current database systems.
Grakn’s database technology provides the knowledge base foundation for artificial intelligence systems used in various industries, including financial services, life sciences and cyber security. Having previously founded two businesses, Tomás draws from his experience to take the commercial lead as Chief Operating Officer in developing strategic relationships with clients who can benefit from Grakn’s ability to easily model, query and analyse complex information in a simple and logical way.
Rather than relying on large, highly-skilled teams of data engineers, Grakn’s intuitive and expressive database simplifies the knowledge engineering process whilst improving performance. It also responds to the nuances of processes in individual organisations and their data, making it easier for machines to rapidly model complex knowledge structures and helps with generating new insights, solutions and tools.
As the company grows and builds on success with the early-adopter market, Tomás will use the SME Leaders to support his development as a leader, through mentoring and guidance on management skills for effective expansion into larger, consumer markets.
Optical sensors developed by Oxsensis meet the challenge of taking precise measurements in harsh and hostile conditions. For industries that rely on high-accuracy measurements, its sensors capture data for variables such as temperature, pressure and acceleration and deliver it via optical fibres for use in monitoring systems.
With technology based on the micro-machining of super resistant materials such as single-crystal sapphire, Oxsensis optical sensor systems can optimise performance in a range of applications and industries. In aerospace, they can be used in flight systems to manage safe propulsion of aircraft. In oil and gas, they support efficient gas turbine monitoring to help with clean energy production.
Oxsensis is becoming firmly established as a manufacturer of optical sensors that track variables in real-time. As a non-electrical system, it can achieve this at extremely high temperatures (over 1,000°C), with immunity to interference from electromagnetic fields. This allows systematic observation in critical systems, leading to savings in size and cost, while improving safety.
Ian Macafee, CEO, has been an SME Leader since 2018 and has benefited from mentoring and an extended peer network, which help with managing the challenges of an expanding business. Since receiving the award, his team has grown to 32 employees, an increase of four staff. Oxsensis has also secured equity investment and opened a scale up finance round of investment. This will support the company’s vision for well-managed, long-term, sustainable growth.
The annual health cost to Europe is estimated at over €50 billion from exposure to emerging contaminants in contaminated water called Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Existing water treatment procedures either require excessive energy or hazardous chemicals and cannot filter out such micro-pollutants, including pharmaceuticals and pesticides.
Henrik Hagemann believes he has the key to resolving this and for treating over 300,000 hectares of land that is contaminated by water pollution in the UK.
His company Puraffinity (formerly CustoMem) is using material engineering to produce selective adsorbent media that can harness hazardous chemicals. They selectively filter out specific pollutants that currently can't be captured. This solution is 10 times cheaper to produce than competing advanced treatments and the adsorbent media can uniquely be regenerated on site using a safe liquid wash, leading to sustainable disposal of captured chemicals.
Puraffinity aims to sell granular adsorbent media internationally and fully engineered water treatment units in the EU, to major industries facing regulatory pressures such as airports and chemical companies. This would provide a cost effective, sustainable way to eliminate contamination from supply chains.
Puraffinity has already partnered with a global water engineering procurement company to remove PFAS from various sources and have executed successful in-house pilots with one of Europe’s busiest airports. The technology has raised over £4 million in grant and venture funding and a tech portfolio manager from Severn Trent has joined as full-time chief commercial executive. The firm has also won multiple awards at the world’s largest synthetic biology competition at MIT.
Stress and anxiety are now a pandemic. 18.1% of Americans live with an anxiety disorder and the World Health Organization estimates the annual cost of workplace stress in the US has grown from $190bn in 2017 to $300bn in 2018. These complex and rapidly growing problems have few good solutions and are not only costly but have a huge impact on quality of life.
Jack co-founded the company, doppel, to create a wristband that seamlessly interacts with our bodies to help us achieve the optimal state of mind for whatever situation we find ourselves in.
The wristband creates a silent rhythmic pulse that you feel on the inside of your wrist. Its heartbeat-like vibration works naturally, within moments, to help you feel calm, focussed, energised or relaxed. Like listening to music, a fast rhythm helps you to feel more alert while a slower rhythm is calming.
Doppel’s wristband can be used to reduce stress and stay focused. Those in high-stress jobs use it to stay anchored and calm. It has been used to overcome nerves at important events, manage anxiety and by those with ADHD to stay focused.
The technology is inspired by psychophysiology - the study of the relationship between the mind and the body and has been shown to reduce stress in controlled, peer-reviewed tests. User trials have also shown that it helps with concentration over longer periods, remaining calm under pressure or maintaining motivation during fitness training.
The wristband offers an alternative to traditional energy supplements, meditation and music as a way to achieve calm, concentration and focus. Following a successful Kickstarted campaign, the company is now focused on delivering its technology more widely to impact the growing mental-wellbeing market.
Jack was awarded a 2016 RAEng 1851 Royal Commission Enterprise Fellowship to support doppel in manufacturing smart wearables and bringing them to market.
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.
David Gammon founded Rockspring in 2002 after 17 years of investment banking experience.
Rockspring provides advice and capital to disruptive technology companies from seed through scale up. His family are the benefactors of the JC Gammon Launchpad Award run by the Enterprise Hub.
David is a non-executive director at Raspberry Pi Trading Limited, Accesso Technology Group plc and Frontier Developments plc.
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.”
Chair of the Enterprise Committee and a long-standing Academy Fellow, Ian 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 currently Managing Director of contract R&D company Arcinova and is also the Managing Partner at investment and advisory firm Shott Trinova LLP. 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 illustrious 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 currently 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”.
Dick Whittington is a serial entrepreneur, business mentor and investor, focusing on the software industry and digital marketplaces, with over thirty years of experience in business. His experience has included co-founding a successful international software business recognised in UK through three Queen's Awards covering both Innovation and International Trade.
In 2012 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering where he plays an active role including as a mentor for early-stage technology startups and spinouts through its highly successful Enterprise Hub. From 2015 Dick has been Visiting and Honorary Professor of Business Innovation at the University of York, where he has developed and delivered a respected course in Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship for students and staff. He is also an active mentor and angel investor within several London and regional technology accelerator programmes.
Prior to pursuing business interests, Dick lectured in Computer Science at the University of York. He managed a successful research team and published a number of research papers and books, including Database Systems Engineering (1987), which became a standard text within many universities. He also contributed to several significant texts including The Software Life Cycle (1990) and the Software Engineers' Reference Book (1991).
"The concept of the Enterprise Hub resonated with me as a solid, practical initiative to benefit UK engineering through engaging the Academy’s extraordinary network of talent. The role of the Hub in launching and scaling such businesses is of enormous value to the UK economy and the engineering profession.”
Phil is an active Cambridge-based angel investor where he chairs, coaches, invests in and helps communications, software and device companies. He is a frequent speaker on a broad range of entrepreneurial topics and an advisor to universities on the commercialisation of their IP.
In 1999 Phil co-founded the spin-out Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) and as managing director, helped to grow CSR plc from a startup of nine people into a highly successful FTSE 250 listed fabless semiconductor company. In 2003, CSR plc had become the largest global market supplier of Bluetooth chips. By 2015, they had shipped three billion chips, employed more than 2,000 people in 23 locations and was acquired by US-based Qualcomm for $2.5 billion.
Phil has been a research fellow at AERE, a chief research engineer at Standard Telecommunication Laboratories, UK Alvey & CEC ESPRIT project manager and a telecoms practice manager at Arthur D Little’s Cambridge Consultants, from which he spun-out CSR plc.
Phil was a recipient of the MacRobert Award in 2005 along with CSR colleagues, for the world's first high-volume single chip Bluetooth device. He was elected as a Royal Academy of Engineering Fellow in 2017 and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex.
“I believe that the commercialisation of IP and the engineering of high-volume products is integral to a vibrant and healthy society. The Enterprise Hub has created an effective mechanism for enabling Fellows to become coaches and mentors to the next generation of engineering entrepreneurs and I am honoured to be in a position to help contribute to its success.”
Formerly the UK Innovation Director for Atkins, Elspeth is the CEO and Founder of IAND, a digital platform that helps major enterprises manage multiple suppliers.
Initially graduating as a chemist, Elspeth later turned her hand to transport and urban design, demonstrating business and technical leadership on over 100 transport planning projects both nationally and around the world.
Elspeth chairs the Enterprise Hub’s Innovators Network and is a judge for the Hub’s Launchpad Competition. She is also a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
In 2017, Elspeth was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to Engineering and Enterprise.
“I believe that collaboration within our industry is the key to driving innovation faster. I am so proud to be involved with the Enterprise Hub, as a Mentor, and as Chair of the Innovators Network and to support young entrepreneurs as a Judge on Launchpad competition.
It is rare to find a place which brings together startups and established companies to exchange ideas and learn from each other. We have a shared goal which is to fast track the growth of engineering enterprises in the UK. The Enterprise Hub has helped me grow my business and it is helping young engineers build the businesses of the future.”
Nigel’s career has involved working in the UK and the Netherlands for Unilever and Wellcome Research. While abroad, he built and operated the first large-scale Dutch facility for the manufacture of the genetically engineered protein alpha-galactosidase. Later, he led the process design for Wellcome’s WelGen interferon manufacturing plant in the USA.
Nigel has served as a co-founding non-executive director for two manufacturing SMEs, Cobra Biomanufacturing Plc (which was listed on AIM) and Angel Technology Ltd. The latter was awarded the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2006 and the International Sial d’Or prize for the most innovative new UK nutritional product at the Paris International Food Conference 2004. Currently he is Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at Cambridge University.
Nigel was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2004.
“My relevant technical and personal experience was well-matched to Janice’s needs and I am pleased to be involved in such a positive initiative.”
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.