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.
In 2019, Vochlea Music set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise £40,000 and launch its first product. Vochlea reached its goal in 45 minutes and within a month had secured over £200,000 worth of funding. This enabled the company to produce and send out the Dubler Studio Kit to initial purchasers worldwide.
The Dubler Studio Kit is an artificial intelligence audio engine that enables users to create, control and manipulate music using their voice. It comes in two parts. The Dubler software is a virtual MIDI instrument for Mac and PC that is compatible with any digital audio workstation. The second element is a low-latency USB microphone, which is tuned with the software. This combination allows musicians to use their voice to set off samples, control synthesisers, operate filters and manipulate effects in real-time.
Kelly Angood is the Chief Marketing Officer at Vochlea Music. Kelly joined the SME Leaders programme in 2020. She says “It will help shape my management style, support the defining of KPIs and sales goals, and enable me to make additional contributions to the growth and development of Vochlea Music.”
The company is now beginning mobile development of its product. This will allow users to share their creations between devices and people. It will also give greater access to those wanting to create on-the-go music and an alternative to traditional desk-bound MIDI controllers.
CEO, Adaptix Ltd
A planar (flat) X-ray imaging solution developed by Adaptix Ltd could significantly improve the availability of 3D X-ray diagnosis.
X-ray is the most commonly used imaging technique in healthcare, supporting clinicians in accurately diagnosing disease and trauma. However, most imaging methods involve bulky, expensive equipment, which limits accessibility.
Adaptix aims to correct this with its lightweight, portable X-ray imaging solution. The technology the company uses is more cost effective and energy efficient. It also harnesses the strengths of emerging techniques, such as digital tomosynthesis, to produce higher quality 3D X-ray imagery and increase diagnostic accuracy.
Making X-ray imaging techniques more portable will help ensure that those with previously poor access will be able to benefit from rapid, accurate diagnosis for a range of conditions, from cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases to lung cancer and osteoporosis.
Mark Evans, CEO, has brought extensive expertise in both business management and medical imaging to Adaptix Ltd. Since becoming an SME Leader in 2017, his team has doubled in size to 32 employees. The programme has supported Mark Evans and his management team to scale the business and secure capital – Adaptix has now raised £8 million in equity.
Adaptix has over 50 published patents and will soon launch its first medical and non-clinical products. The company is making an impact in the fields of medical and dental practice. It has also identified further uses for its 3D imaging technology with industrial, security and veterinary applications.
Material corrosion is a cross-sector problem that costs industry potentially $500 billion globally each year. Current anti-corrosion chemicals contain hexavalent chromate, a highly toxic chemical that will be banned from use in the EU from 2019. The need for alternatives is pressing, and Dr Patrick Dodds, CEO and Founder of Hexigone Inhibitors Ltd, has found a novel solution.
Dr Dodds’ anti-corrosion technology is not simply a chemical, but a system of nano-reservoirs that can be incorporated into coatings such as paint. This technology is activated by the chemicals that cause corrosion, triggering the rapid release of a protective agent and essentially making the coated material self-healing.
The aerospace, automotive and shipping industries are among those currently searching for new anti-corrosion solutions. Dr Dodds’ technology has potential to penetrate the £200 billion-dollar protective coating industry thanks to its speed of action and environmental acceptability. It also aims to match current equivalents on price and the length of its guarantee.
Awards from the Worshipful Company of Armourers & Brasiers, Royal Society and Innovate UK have supported proof of concept and development to date. Dr Dodds is now developing this novel technology in collaboration with Tata Steel to manufacture anti-corrosive paint for metals in Europe. Discussions are progressing with other investors, and there has been interest from several multinationals within the paint industry.
Dr Dodds was awarded a 2017 Enterprise Fellowship to support him to develop the business. Next steps involve scaling up the manufacturing process and both long-term and accelerated testing.
Managing Director, Ludwick Precision
Metal fabrication for applications such as laboratory benches and office furniture requires expertise in materials, as well as finely-tuned engineering processes. Ludwick Precision is a specialist in this area, leading fabrication of high-end, bespoke sheet, box and tubular metal solutions.
For 25 years, the Hertfordshire-based company has built up a significant reputation in the design and manufacture of engineered products to meet customers’ bespoke requirements.
Ludwick Precision is a fully integrated manufacturing consultancy, from design and prototyping, to assembly and installation, clients are supported at every stage in the process. This has enabled the company to develop several long-term customer partnerships by consistently delivering projects on time and within budget. Ludwick Precision’s extensive work in the pharmaceutical sector, for example, includes the development and manufacture of the first height-adjustable laboratory bench to be built in the UK.
Ryian Ludwick, Managing Director, has used SME Leaders Programme training to support the business through an expansion programme and his team has grown to 20 people since receiving the award in 2017. In 2019/20, Ryian purchased the company from its main shareholder and he has developed a strategy for Ludwick Precision’s continued growth which includes a focus on the demands of existing customers, and exploring the potential to make products applicable to other niche market sectors.
CEO, Oxford nanoSystems
From air-conditioning units to big data computing, heat-transfer components play a fundamental role in a range of technologies. Oxford nanoSystems is revolutionising the manufacture of these components with a novel coating technology that substantially improves materials’ heat transfer capabilities. This enables the development of lighter products at a reduced cost.
The coating facilitates the production of heat-transfer components that are more efficient and consume less energy thereby improving their environmental sustainability. The flexible coating can be customised and incorporated into existing manufacturing processes, or applied to components after manufacturing.
Before completing his PhD, Alexander Reip was invited to bring his expertise in nanomaterials to Oxford nanoSystems. The company at that point was a new startup and he played a principal role in developing its groundbreaking coating.
Dr Reip is now CEO of the company and leads a team that is dedicated to implementing its product more widely. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme since 2017, Alexander has grown the team from three to 17 staff.
Training in management and leadership has helped Dr Reip to strengthen his entrepreneurial skills and develop a strategy for growth. Oxford nanoSystems has now raised over £2 million in equity funding and over £1.5 million in grant funding. It is now preparing to install its first production plant with a view to accessing new markets that will benefit from improved cooling systems, including the large and growing electronics sector.
GreenSpur Wind has developed a generator that could further reduce the cost of wind energy, making this renewable energy source more cost effective, efficient and sustainable. Many existing machines use scarce and expensive rare earth magnets, which are sourced almost exclusively from China. In contrast, GreenSpur’s patented design makes use of ferrite – an abundant, cheaper alternative type of magnet, which will accelerate deployment. Its low-cost generator can concentrate flux and maximise energy generation, making it the first company to develop a credible option using ferrite magnets for large-scale turbines.
Andrew Hine joined the SME Leaders programme in 2017 when Innovate UK had awarded the company a £1.25 million grant to build a single stage 250kW generator, part of a four-stage 1MW design. This was completed in 2019. A feasibility study is now being undertaken, which will demonstrate how the modular GreenSpur design is capable of being scaled to deliver 15MW-plus configurations.
Now, GreenSpur Wind is working on grant applications and funding that could release millions for further product development. Further investment would allow the company to form an R&D design and development team. The company is also looking for a co-development partner to bring its technology and multi-MW generators to the global wind turbine market.
“The programme has enabled us to transition the business towards an applied engineering strategy. I found the mentoring, both formal and informal, a great support during this transition phase. The networking opportunities provided by the Enterprise Hub were also useful and enabled me to obtain a level of engineering support and advice that had previously been very difficult to access.”
A desire to help create sustainable and resilient cities led Arthur Kay to develop bio-bean, the first company to industrialise the recycling process for spent coffee grounds and transform them into advanced biofuels and biochemicals.
With over 500,000 tonnes of spent coffee grounds going to waste in the UK every year, Arthur recognised them as a valuable, and abundant, resource. They are highly calorific and packed with the right compounds to be a source of sustainable energy.
The company slots neatly into pre-existing waste and energy processes, and works closely with waste-management companies to get spent coffee grounds to their large-scale recycling factory. As a result, the award-winning clean technology company already collects thousands of tonnes yearly from offices, transport hubs and coffee shops, including Costa Coffee.
The used coffee grounds are then transformed into sustainable, high-performance products, such as biomass pellets for heating buildings, and the company’s first consumer product ‘Coffee Logs’ for use at home in stoves and fires.
Rapid growth has enabled the company to build its capacity to recycle up to 50,000 tonnes of used coffee grounds each year, which has significantly reduced the amount that ends up in landfill. By engaging in extensive research, bio-bean now plans to expand its range of advanced carbon-neutral biofuels and biochemicals for commercial use.
Contemporary architectural design requires smarter, more flexible materials to help buildings meet their environmental targets. Flexible plastic displays could provide a sustainable option for optimising indoor environments but only if they can be easily manufactured for use in materials such as glass.
Dr Chris Williamson, founded the start-up Flexypix to unlock the potential of flexible plastic displays that can be integrated into glass. His technology can be used to create windows that quickly switch from transparent to opaque, providing privacy or reflecting unwanted heat while consuming no continuous power.
Made using a liquid crystal-based material, Flexypix displays can rapidly switch and adapt on demand, within seconds.
These ultra-thin, plastic panels can also be seamlessly retro-fitted to existing surfaces, or integrated within materials such as glass during manufacture.
As CEO, Chris Williamson brings extensive experience in engineering smart tools and material for construction. He leads Flexypix in developing continuous mass-production processes so that the company can target the global commercial indoor window market, which was valued at $30 billion in 2015.
Chris was awarded a 2017 Enterprise Fellowship to spin out his business, continue testing and upscale the manufacturing process.
Despite being the most abundant form of renewable energy, solar energy does not have as high an international adoption rate as it could have.
The solar panels currently used to capture the sun’s energy are inefficient, cannot be bent or fabricated into custom shapes and have complicated disposal options at the end of life. That means that today’s panels are unable to make use of irregular spaces where the sun shines, especially in urban areas.
Dr Leonard Ng Wei Tat is the founder of DaVinci Future Technologies Ltd. He is also the inventor of the underlying patented system that enables nano-plated dispersions that allow solar panels to be printed using conventional printing machines.
Dr Ng Wei Tat’s technology will permit solar cells to be manufactured using standard industrial roll-to-roll printing at low cost and in large volumes. Solar cells processed in this way are flexible and can take on bespoke shapes and forms. The resulting photovoltaics are also more easily disposable at end of life.
Dr Ng Wei Tat says: “Although the growth of photovoltaics has been accelerating through the years, the average penetration of solar energy per country is only 2.5%. Our technology hopes to improve on this number. By mid-2020 we will have identified the markets we can be involved with and make an impact.”
He had originally proposed to use his innovation for another renewable energy use and says: “The Enterprise Fellowship enabled me to explore the market for my initial idea and then allowed me to effect a pivot from that original business concept. This acceleration of learning has put into perspective what is important about building a deep tech business and enabled me to find a new market.”
pre-seed funding from Cambridge Enterprise
2019 Dr Leonard Ng Wei Tat was Awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2019 Patent awarded for innovation (WO2017013263A1)
2019 DaVinci Future Technologies Ltd registered with Companies House
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.
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 Dick Whittington FREng is an entrepreneur, business mentor and investor, focusing on the software industry and digital marketplaces, with over 30 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 spin-outs through its highly successful Enterprise Hub. He is also an active mentor and angel investor within several London and regional technology accelerator programmes, and is Honorary Professor of Business Innovation at the University of York.
Prior to pursuing business interests, Dick lectured in computer science at the University of York. He managed a successful research team and published several research papers and books. His latest book Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Cambridge University Press, 2018) provides an introduction to digital business for STEM students and early-stage entrepreneurs.
"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.”
Paul Taylor FREng has led the delivery of some of the most demanding national security programmes in the UK, operating at the very highest levels of government. He is uniquely qualified to understand the evolving threat environment, as well as having an exceptional track record of driving and delivering change in complex organisations. Paul’s contribution to the world of science technology was recognised by his election as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2013, where he now sits on its Engineering Policy Committee.
Paul is Deputy Managing Director at AWE plc, where he is responsible for providing the AWE Board and UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) with assurance of delivery of the £1 billion per annum nuclear warhead programme. Prior to this, he was Director General of Technology and Chief Information Officer in a central government department, where he was a member of both ExCo and the main board.
He held the position of Director General of Strategic Technologies and then Director General of Equipment in MOD, and Senior Responsible Owner for the UK’s Future Nuclear Deterrent. Paul was the first Chief Executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL). The post carried responsibility for all elements of defence research and the 3,000 staff that were retained within government following the split of MOD R&D activities into QinetiQ and DSTL.
A member of several government technical advisory committees, Paul also chairs the Advisory Board of the Imperial College Institute of Security Science and Technology. He is currently advising and exercising several global retail and investment banks at board level, helping to address their cyber and information protection challenges. Paul sits on a number of bank board risk committee advisory panels.
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.”
Dr Liane Smith FREng founded Intetech Ltd in 1991, winning the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2012 for its software. She sold the business to Wood Group in 2013 and in 2018 she left to form a new consulting engineering business, Larkton Ltd.
Liane is enthusiastic about the capability of digital technologies to transform businesses, bringing efficiencies, cost reduction, production control and increasing safety. In her last role as Senior Vice President Digital Solutions for Wood, she built the new global service line and defined its strategy roadmap and development plan. Her expertise is in various specialist branches of engineering in the industrial and energy sectors and in software product design and commercialisation, data management, data analysis, and analytics.
“I try to fill in gaps in mentees experience and give them confidence in their decisions. Typically we touch on building strong teams, role and task delegation, agile development, growing sales, exporting and strategy."
Sir Peter Bonfield CBE FREng is a leading international business executive with over 50 years’ experience in the fields of electronics, computers and communications. Change management in international technology companies has been at the centre of his long and illustrious career.
Since 2002 Sir Peter has been involved with a diverse portfolio of companies and is currently operating at main board level or director of several companies in the US, Europe and the Far East. In the past, he has served in as CEO of ICL and more recently of BT Group.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (1993), the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the British Computer Society, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Marketing Society and the Royal Society of Arts.
Sir Peter is a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, Freeman of the City of London, Honorary Citizen of Dallas, Texas and Member of The Pilgrims of Great Britain.
More information about Sir Peter can be found at www.sirpeterbonfield.com
Scientist and entrepreneur Dr Graeme Malcolm is CEO and founder of the multi-award-winning photonics and quantum technology company, M Squared. M Squared is headquartered in the UK with offices globally and is one of the UK's most innovative and disruptive technology businesses, well-known for creating the world's purest light.
Graeme finds technological and entrepreneurial solutions to some of society's greatest problems from improving healthcare to halting climate change. He's a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, The Royal Society Edinburgh, and The Institute of Physics and his achievements include an OBE for his services to Science and Innovation, The Swan Medal from the Institute of Physics, and Entrepreneur of the Year at the Amazon Growing Business Awards.
Dr Mark Selby joined Ceres Power in 2006 as a control systems engineer and spent several years in various leadership roles. In 2013, he became Chief Technology Officer as part of deploying a new corporate strategy to embed Ceres Technology through licensing to world-leading product companies like Bosch, Weichai, Doosan and Honda.
Mark is responsible for all aspects of the Steel Cell technology and brings 20 years of experience in clean technology product development, always working in multidisciplinary teams to solve hard science and engineering problems. As CTO, he sits at the interface of the commercial, technology, shareholders and wider stakeholders’ worlds and uses this insight to build ambitious collaborative programs that create value for everyone involved in the journey.
Prior to joining Ceres Power, he was part of the Control and Electronics Team at Ricardo UK Limited. Mark has degrees in electronics, dynamics and control systems from the University of Leeds and is a charted engineer.
His mission is to get world-changing science out of the lab and into products that actually change the world.
Professor Roger Benson FREng retired from full-time employment 2003. Since retiring he has been a part time consultant in world-class performance, working with the NDA and other organisations. In addition he has been a Chairman/Director of four university spin-out companies: PAROS (failed), Perceptive Engineering Ltd (recently sold), Industrial Tomography Systems (slow growth) and TDL Sensors Ltd (sold). When requested he is also an assessor for Innovate UK, EPSRC and EU projects.
Roger has been a judge for the UK Best Factory Awards for over 20 years. During that period he has visited and benchmarked over 200 of the best UK manufacturing plants across all industries.
Over a 35-year industrial career Roger worked for ICI. Positions included Chief Engineer of ICI Engineering Technology and Head of the Global Control / Electrical Function. He created and managed the ICI internal Manufacturing Technology capability. In 1993 he was seconded to the DTI Innovation Unit for two years where he coordinated and published the Winning Report. For the last four years of his career he was acquired by ABB where he was the Global Technology Programmes for ABB Analytics and Advanced Solutions, and an Executive member of ABB Process Solutions.
In 1999 he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He has published over 80 papers, and given many presentations on innovation, process control, benchmarking, world-class manufacturing and the future of the Process Industries. In 1999 Roger wrote and published the Institution of Chemical Engineers book, Benchmarking Process Manufacturing. It is still the only book on the subject. He has been a Visiting Professor to three UK universities.