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.
bento•lab is a personal laboratory that will allow anybody to carry out basic genetic experiments from the comfort of their own homes. The objective is to create products that enable everyone to work with biology safely, conveniently and creatively.
With bento•lab, 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.
Speaker and writer Phillip Boeing is the co-founder of Bento Bioworks with Bethan Wolfenden. They are already taking orders after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
There are approximately 50 pantograph (an apparatus mounted on the roof of an electric train to collect power through contact with an overhead line) related incidents in the UK each year. These cause cancellations of passenger services, damage infrastructure, reduce safety and reliability of electrified train operation and have huge financial implications (tens of millions of pounds per incident) for both train operating companies and infrastructure managers such as Network Rail.
A lack of real-time information about pantograph operation and being unable to regularly inspect the infrastructure to inform data-driven decisions currently costs Network Rail around £530 million per annum.
Sentech Analytics Ltd has developed a new ‘smart-pantograph’ system: a multi-parameter, patented and field-evaluated optical fibre-based sensor system integrated with video information, to inform better data-driven maintenance solutions. This system allows users to create comprehensive inspection reports (required by the regulatory bodies) and reduce maintenance costs by providing real-time insight on the status of infrastructure and railway pantographs, preventing costly incidents while reducing maintenance and service outages.
Recent work with Network Rail on the Great Western Electrification programme illustrated this, and the smart pantograph now facilitates faster, more environmentally friendly passenger journeys between Bristol and Cardiff.
The company’s plan moving forward is to get detailed understanding of the challenges faced by the main stakeholders (within the UK and EU), to secure a pilot project and establish appropriate business models for two different market segments: train operating companies and infrastructure managers.
“In this very short period of time, the training provided by the Royal Academy of Engineering has been very important for my personal development as well as a great guidance on how to establish the company. In addition to that, having regular conversations with staff and my coach has been very helpful to get answers to a number of dilemmas.”
Daniel Thorpe is the Business Development
and Marketing Director at Spiro Control, a company that helps
factories to increase production rates and lower energy costs by using analytics.
Its expertise in advanced process control and optimisation helps manufacturers
turn data into action, using pioneering technology to increase reliability,
energy efficiency and profitability.
Spiro Control has delivered advanced control solutions to clients across the world, in a broad range of industries, including refining, petrochemical, energy, polymer, food processing and mining. Its device captures sensor data and feeds it to embedded data analytics tools, which make it easy to optimise processes by increasing reliability and production rates, reducing equipment damage and improving process stability. In the future, Spiro Control hopes to develop a solution that will work within the Industrial Internet of Things architecture.
Fabiano Mistano is the Chief Automotive Engineer at Onlicar, a fleet management and vehicle monitoring service that uses the expertise of Formula 1 and the aerospace industry to monitor vehicles. Its integrated systems improve performance and save money by combining engineering, software development and simulation.
The system uses a data analytics platform that is powered by artificial intelligence and connected car technology such as dongles and smartphone apps. It can use vehicle engine information to digitally diagnose and provide a health score for vehicles. Onlicar fleet management products range from tracking of small fleets to automated decision-making for those with more than 500 vehicles. The technology is encrypted and customisable.
Gregory Francis is the Financial Director of BOXARR, a company that uses software to map complex interdependent systems and processes at a vast scale. It helps companies to optimise their operational performance and manage risk by bringing business processes into one place.
Its software is based on the ‘boxes and arrows’ concept, and solves the challenges of complexity across data intelligence aggregation, systems design and engineering, supply chain, process management, programme planning and execution, and joint operations methodology, by highlighting hidden risks and opportunities. Currently, the software is primarily used by the defence and aerospace industries, but the company hopes to diversify into a variety of industries.
Managing Director, REACT Engineering
REACT Engineering is developing innovative engineering approaches to reduce the impact of nuclear waste on the environment. Through specialist engineering consultancy and project management services, REACT Engineering develops solutions that address the challenges faced by the UK nuclear industry, including decommissioning and waste management.
The company has benefitted from the support of the SME Leaders Programme through training and workshops for its leadership team, including Paul Botterill (Director) and Phil Redfern (Managing Director).
SME Leader, Phil Redfern has used the programme’s training and networking to create space for strategic thinking and shape the future direction of the business. Since receiving the award in 2016, he has helped the company to successfully establish trusted partnerships and grow its client base both in the civil and nuclear defence markets.
Following a management buy-out in 2019, Phil Redfern now has a majority shareholding in the company. His goals for the company’s future include growing and diversifying its client base while taking a customer-focused approach to creating long-term, sustainable solutions for nuclear clean-up.
When a manufacturer, for example a car maker, wants a new component made, it will go to a supplier with its specifications. To make this new item, the supplier needs material multi-axial property data to predict its materials’ response in the manufacturing process. Existing testing methods cannot supply such data across all possible temperature and stress states.
To solve this issue, Dr Zhutao Shao and his colleagues from Imperial College London have developed and patented the world’s first high-temperature multi-axial material testing system. This patented testing process involves stretching a piece of material from multiple directions and under different service conditions until it fractures. Customers are then given the data and can use it to optimise their material’s structure.
Most existing systems use room temperature for testing and some may go up to 300° to 500°C. Dr Shao’s innovation can go over 1,000°C when needed. This option is important when judging how a material will behave under various stress states during the hot stamping manufacturing process. His multi-axial testing also undertakes fatigue, tension and compression testing of materials within a wide range of temperatures. The suite of checks are labelled ‘hot multi-axial tests’.
Multi-X Solutions already collaborates with car component suppliers for lightweight structural design and production of vehicles and will start trial sales in 2020. The company currently has one service and two products open to the transportation industry. Multi-X Solutions also has a materials database that will be added to as the company conducts tests on more engineering materials and structures.
The market that Multi-X are working in stands at £850 million worldwide and is rapidly expanding. The company is now looking to further develop and standardise the cost-effective testing methods for the data-driven advanced manufacturing industry.
2018 Awarded Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Impact Acceleration Account funding
2018 Awarded title of the Most Valuable Project in Tencent Auto Open Platform Competition
2019 Dr Zhutao Shao was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2020 Accepted onto Imperial Techcelerate Programme
Phil Horton is the managing director of Dulas Ltd, an international worker-owned co-operative in the field of renewable energy. The company has been providing renewable energy installations for 30 years. The company started by installing solar power in Kenya in 1984, followed by solar powered blood banks in Sudan, pioneering innovative uses of renewable energy.
Dulas develops and delivers renewable energy solutions to a range of clients, including businesses, charities and landowners. In the UK, Dulas is currently working on wind, solar and hydro projects, including installing wind monitoring instruments for the world’s biggest offshore windfarm, while overseas it is mainly focused on its work on solar powered vaccine fridges.
Mixergy Ltd, a University of Oxford spin-out, has developed an internet-connected, smart hot water tank that gives users greater control and oversight over their water heating systems. Traditional water cylinders heat up all the water within, or none, like a giant kettle. Mixergy’s tanks use thermal stratification and an innovative heating arrangement to heat the water from top down. That way, consumers can selectively heat different volumes of water and save 5% to 20% on their hot water bills.
Mixergy’s top-up technology enables hot water to be delivered up to five times faster than conventional cylinders. In addition, by having internet connectivity and an artificial intelligence algorithm running on the Mixergy cloud platform, customers can better utilise time-of-use tariffs and use the unit’s app as a smart remote control.
Ren Kang co-founded Mixergy in 2014 and is its Head of Research. He joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and is looking forward to it helping him “transition from being the company’s technical director to being its industrial leader. By better-planning Mixergy’s product development, I will be able to prepare it for future energy challenges and opportunities.”
Since its inception, the Mixergy team has grown to 21 staff and built strong relationships with British Gas, a major installer of tanks. In 2020, Mixergy raised £3.6 million in a Series A funding round. This has allowed Mixergy to gain further commercial traction in UK and European markets.
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.