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.
Since Bethan was 15 she has been fascinated by DNA, "I mean what could be cooler than understanding the code of life?" She wondered. Following her passion took her to University College London and gave her access to machines that could sample DNA - hugely expensive machines that only a few people could ever dream of using.
A college competition entered with friends started her on the road to creating the Bento Lab - a personal DNA lab that costs as much as a laptop and is not much bigger or heavier.
Now field workers can take their own kit with them rather than having to go back to their labs and anyone - not just professionals - with a passion for biology can sample their own genes or see what is in their beer. Or for the very brave, their burgers. Who knows what future Bethans armed with the Bento Lab will discover?
Her company, Bento Bioworks, is making learning and working with molecular biology orders of magnitude more accessible. The toolkit weighs only 3kg, fits on an A4 footprint, and contains all the equipment required to carry out basic research in molecular biology. This has widespread implications for science and engineering education as bento•lab users will be able to engage hands-on with genetic engineering and could potentially contribute to large-scale research projects. They are already taking orders after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
You can watch a video about bento•lab here.
“One of the challenges we all face is thinking that there’s a perfect time to start your own business. The harsh reality is that this mythical moment never arrives. There will always be challenges and excuses to delay making that decision, but at some point you need to get past those mental roadblocks and take the plunge."
Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Cambridge GaN Devices Ltd.
More than 80% of the world’s electricity passes through a power electronics circuit where the power device is the core. The power device operates as a switch between off- (no current flowing) and on-state (current flowing). However, there are substantial energy losses during this process using current technology. Cambridge GaN Devices uses Gallium Nitride (GaN) to cut energy losses and deliver the highest energy efficiency, as well as being smart and reliable in the long term. It is a single on-chip solution that makes the product a very efficient and easy-to-use power device.
Cambridge GaN Devices is a University of Cambridge spin-out, co-founded by Dr Giorgia Longobardi. Dr Longobardi is its Chief Executive with a team of 23 employees and several consultants. She has taken a central role in engineering the core technology.
In 2019, Dr Longobardi joined the SME Leaders programme and credits it, saying: “The mentoring has provided useful answers when needed, in particular in preparation for pitching and developing a business case for Series A fundraising, which successfully secured £6.8 million in January 2021. Peer networking has also been extremely valuable as there are many common challenges for entrepreneurs. The solution to my problems has often been available within the SME contacts created through the programme.”
Dr Longobardi is aiming to make Cambridge GaN Devices the number one provider of GaN power integrated circuits. She is targeting applications in consumer electronics, industrial and automotive segments, with a focus on power supplies for mobile phones, data centres and LED drivers for vertical horticulture. With 26 patent applications already under its belt, the company’s innovations could cut millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions as well as help make the upcoming expansion of data centres much more sustainable.
Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Notpla Ltd
Around 50% of plastic packaging is used once, thrown away and, depending on its structure and composition, can take decades or hundreds of years to decompose. Notpla Ltd has created a plastic alternative, made from plants and brown seaweed, that biodegrades naturally in four to six weeks. Seaweed is an ideal base material to work with as it grows rapidly and does not compete with food crops for land or freshwater.
The company’s first product, Ooho, is a flexible biodegradable packaging for drinks and sauces that can also be eaten. Ideal for products with a short-use life, Ooho can replace plastic cups and bottles for running events, races and other sporting occasions.
Notpla’s second product is a coating for paperboard. Lined cardboard is usually coated with plastic made from oil or corn, both non sustainable. Trialled by Just Eat, the boxes are designed for the food takeaway industry to be both waterproof and greaseproof, are biodegradable and can even be re-pulped.
Pierre-Yves Paslier is one of Notpla’s Co-Founders and is its Co-CEO. Pierre became an SME Leader in 2019 and says that the programme has benefited him in several ways. “The leadership training has been great at honing my tactical skills. And the mentoring plus peer-to-peer interactions have given me new perspectives on how other organisations evolve as they scale up.”
Notpla is growing quickly. In the two years since he became an SME Leader, the company’s workforce has doubled to over 40 staff and has raised nearly £5 million in seed funding and grants. Pierre anticipates the workforce doubling in size again with a strong emphasis on R&D that will help bring a wave of new sustainable packaging solutions.
Visit Notpla's website here.
R.grid has developed machine learning-powered software for healthcare R&D. Medical institutions and researchers spend a lot of time and money on clinical trial administration. The sector is complex, with highly regulated stages that involve a wide variety of stakeholders. This work is often done manually and is largely paper-based.
R.grid is designed to streamline the medical research and patient engagement processes. The company uses an AI-powered, cloud-based system to automate the work, which increases efficiency and reduces the costs involved. The potential has already been spotted, with over £1 million of seed investment raised.
Dr Amber Michelle Hill is the founder and CEO at R.grid. Amber joined the Shott Scale Up Accelerator in 2022 and says, “I am keen on mastering different communication styles and strategies for various negotiations, revenue building, marketing, public relations and talent retention. My aim is to become more balanced in all aspects of my role.”
The company is using its funding so far to intelligently streamline data management in clinical operations and patient engagement, reducing timeframes from months to minutes. So far, it has been able to reduce costs by 30%, increase administrative efficiency by over 90%, increase digital participation by 88% and increase patient engagement threefold.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Professor Mark Arthur Tooley FREng is the immediate Past President of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine. He was the Head of the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering and Director of Research and Development at the Royal United Hospitals, Bath until 2017 when he retired from full-time NHS work. Since then, he has held several part-time roles. He is a specialist scientific advisor for NHS England, a digital clinical advisor for the West of England Academic Health Science network, and a healthcare technology consultant. He is a registered Consultant Clinical Scientist, an honorary professor at the University of Bath, and a visiting professor at the University of the West of England.
Mark completed his BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Bath in 1979. He was sponsored by Westinghouse Brake and Signal company for the four years of the course. He then did an MSc and PhD in Medical Physics at the University of London. His MSc thesis was developing a EEG frequency analyser for anaesthesia. For his PhD research, Mark invented (with a cardiologist) an original method for rate-independent diagnosis of cardiac rhythm for implantable devices, which was patented. He spent the rest of his career in Medical Physics and Bioengineering departments, both in hospitals and academia, working along medical colleagues. He has worked at St Bartholomew’s hospital in London, Bristol University, United Bristol healthcare NHS Trust, and the Royal United Hospital, Bath. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal College of Physicians, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, and the Institute of Physics. He is a chartered engineer and chartered scientist. Mark is on the peer-review college of EPSRC, has recently been a member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Healthcare Technologies Strategic Advisory Team and the Royal Society Fellowship panel.
Mark has been a long-standing member of the Panel for Biomedical Engineering at the Royal Academy of Engineering (now called the healthcare policy topic group). He was recently a member of the biomedical engineering membership panel, the Policy Committee, and the working group for Systems thinking in healthcare. He has mentored on the enterprise scheme.
Mark’s research interests include innovations in medicine, physics applications in anaesthesia, simulation in medicine, physiological measurement, biological signal processing, measuring the depth of anaesthesia, blood pressure measurement and novel patient monitoring solutions.
As an entrepreneur and communications professional, Helen's mission is to help businesses do more good in the world. After nearly 15 years working in government relations and leadership communications, Helen set up her own boutique communications agency, HN Communications. A smaller and more person-centred alternative to bigger agencies, HN Communications works with large and small clients to deliver complex communications projects. Clients include Bosch, Heineken, Nissan and The Climate Group.
Helen founded her latest venture, Leaders LIVE in 2020, just as COVID-19 hit. Leaders LIVE fills a much-needed gap in the market for an independent, online platform for thought leadership and debate. Leaders LIVE brings together leaders from business, government and NGOs to debate some of the biggest challenges facing our world today, from tackling climate change to addressing diversity. After only a year Leaders LIVE has built a dedicated community, with live events hosted on LinkedIn and YouTube. Events regularly have hundreds of live attendees, with thousands more catching up on the replay.
With a mechanical engineering degree from Imperial College London and an MBA from Erasmus, Mike is a chartered engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a Sainsbury Management Fellow.
He has led turnarounds, helped establish new businesses and delivered complex projects; challenging and coaching teams to innovate and transcend existing performance. Mike’s experience includes senior operations, project and corporate roles with Royal Dutch Shell UK, and large-scale project development and delivery roles at Alstom in locations across Europe, Asia and North America. Most recently he has been a Director at Centrica Energy, where he is responsible for one of the company’s largest operated gas businesses. He is a Non-Executive Director of Acqualithium and Vice-Chair of the Board of Hymers College.
Naomi started her career at the National Criminal Intelligence Service (now the National Crime Agency), where she spent three years looking at fraud and financial crime intelligence. It included a stint working with the FBI in Quantico, Virginia. She then moved to RBS, where she spent 10 years working in various risk roles, across both the first and second line of defence.
Most recently, Naomi has been working at LBG as a Director in the Chief Resilience and Security Office, where she led on operational resilience and cyber and information security policy. She co-founded the Operational Resilience Collaboration Group, made up of more than 40 firms working together to build resilience in the industry, and co-authored the ORCG industry standard on operational resilience. Naomi also developed the ‘Mind the Gap’ initiative across various FTSE100 companies, with senior women giving inspirational talks and providing mentorships to help encourage more women into careers in security.
Dr John C Taylor OBE FREng was born in Buxton, Derbyshire in 1936. Having spent five years living in Canada
during his childhood, he returned home towards the end of the Second World War.
He attended King William’s College on
the Isle of Man before studying Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.
Dr John C Taylor is one of the UK’s most successful and prolific living inventors and, over a sixty-year career, has invented, produced and sold components for numerous electrical appliances around the world.
While at his company Strix Ltd, Dr Taylor established the business as the world-leading manufacturer of kettle controls. His research was instrumental in designing the ubiquitous safety switch that turns a kettle off when it boils and prevents it from overheating, and he also designed the 360˚ cordless connectors in modern kettles.
Dr Taylor’s innovations led to the production and sale of almost two billion kettle controls - 75% of the global market. His inventions in the development of bi-metallic safety critical cut-outs for electric motors are also used in domestic appliances such as hairdryers and fan heaters. His work has also seen over four hundred patents filed, including automatic windshield wipers, electric motor protectors and cordless kettle connectors and controls, and it is a testament to these components’ visionary design that they continue to be in prolific use today.
Dr Taylor has been the recipient of many honours including, but not limited to, the following:
He is also an elected Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, and has been conferred Honorary Doctorates from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and Durham University. When he’s not inventing and innovating, Dr Taylor is a keen aviator, mountaineer, yachtmaster and philanthropist.
Dr John C Taylor is a committed philanthropist and has made a number of donations in order to ensure that young engineers in the UK have the tools they need to be competitive in a global market. In 2017, he became the main sponsor of the new Dr John C Taylor Enterprise Hub, affectionately known as the Taylor Centre, in the Royal Academy of Engineering. He also established in perpetuity a Chair Professorship of Innovation in the Engineering Department of the University of Cambridge.
Following his career in creating electrical control switches, Dr Taylor became well-known for his interest in clocks and is one of the world’s leading experts in the work of John Harrison, an early pioneer of timekeeping and sea clocks. This led him to design and help build the Corpus Chronophage, a large, time-eating clock which that stands proud on the exterior of the Taylor Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Dr Taylor donated the clock, alongside a bestowment to make the Taylor Library possible, to his alma mater in order to support bright students of future generations.
Richard has significant experience in managing early stage and high-growth investor-backed businesses. He has spent the last 20 years finding, building and exiting these, investing in many.
He has a strong focus on numbers, financial models, strategic and execution planning, and risk management. He has a toolkit of methodologies to call on to help businesses grow.
He is an experienced non-executive director of both SME and PLC (AIM) companies, has a good knowledge of the funding landscape and is well networked (UK and global) with connections to most Venture Capital, PE, lawyer, accountant and High Net Worth Investor communities. He has led and advised on many fundraises, including: grant; EIS and SEIS High Net Worth Investors; Venture Capital Trust; crowdfunding; ‘follow-ons’; Series A; ‘new’ such as, revenue-based funding; and all forms of debt.
Richard is a trained mentor and coach and able to challenge and win trust at the same time. He has designed and delivered incubator and accelerator structures and programmes.
He founded and runs Realise Capital, a strategic financial and growth practice, is a chartered accountant (FCA) and previously has had roles as co-founder, CEO and corporate finance director. He has seen and had to deal with most situations that arise on a growth journey and can be hands on if the need arises. He has supported more than 75 ambitious founders to achieve exits in excess of £150 million and raise investment in excess of £25 million.
Amelia is a Senior Growth Architect at BCG Digital Ventures. She has more than five years’ experience building and scaling numerous B2B and B2C tech startups in the UK, US, Dubai and France. She has also worked with some of the world’s largest corporates to accelerate their marketing, sales and e-commerce efforts.
Her capabilities include competitive market intelligence, data-driven marketing experiments, analytics, go-to-market strategies, proposition development, digital marketing, and creating martech stacks across traditional and digital channels. Prior to BCG Digital Ventures, Amelia was a Growth Strategy Consultant at Manifesto Growth and Head of Brand and Partnerships at TRIBE.