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.
Sonobex uses acoustic metamaterials to control noise levels, usually for industrial applications. The Watford-based company has pioneered the development of acoustic panel technology, called NoiseTrap®, which can control low frequency sound and be tuned to focus, direct and manipulate sound.
Dr Daniel Elford is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Sonobex Ltd. He is responsible for leading aspects of the company’s research and development initiatives, including managing its property portfolio. He became an SME Leader in 2018 and says the programme has proved useful in a number of ways: “The positive approach of the peer group interaction and individual mentoring has helped us maximise our business potential. The dedicated training has enabled me to identify processes from our innovations that create a competitive edge and advantage in our sector.” As a result of his achievements, Dr Daniel Elford was awarded an Academy Silver Medal in 2019, for his outstanding contribution to UK engineering.
The company is launching two products in 2020. These products are new solutions to reducing airborne noise from low frequency noise sources using a series of tuned resonators – the NoiseTrap®Blox and NoiseTrap®Active. The Active technology has a sensor or microphone that monitors noise, connects to a feedback control system and speaker that generates a counter wave to cancel the outgoing and tonal issues. Daniel says that together with the company’s panelling, Sonobex is anticipating doubling its turnover in the coming year.
With support from his team at the University of York , Stephen has led a pioneering project to develop a quick, safe and easy means of diagnosing and monitoring neurodegenerative diseases.
The project uses evolutionary algorithms to recognise symptoms by monitoring data from unobtrusive matchbox-sized sensors worn by the patient.
Sufferers of conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s could have improved quality of life and faster care while hospitals would reduce the costs of what are often long-term treatment plans.
Stephen is a reader and researcher at the University of York’s Department of Electronics. His Fellowship award allowed him to focus on clinical validation of the technology at medical centres in the UK, USA and Australia.
“The scheme provided a highly effective, prolonged programme of training and mentorship that, over the course of a year, enabled me to make the transition from academic to entrepreneur,” Stephen says. “It continues to support me by providing a focus for seeking help, support and know-how from individuals with a wide range of engineering expertise.”
Globally, one in 10 people do not have access to clean drinking water, and over 2000 people die from a diarrheal disease caused by bacteria every day. Current water testing systems are complex, require considerable training and are prone to human error.
WaterScope, a Cambridge-based spin-out, has developed an easy-to-use, bacterial testing system. The technology enables anyone to rapidly conduct a test and has been designed for increased accessibility in low-resource areas that cannot easily access labs for testing.
WaterScope’s technology uses a disposable cartridge that automates sample collection and processing, while guaranteeing the integrity of a test. It allows anyone to carry out a test without extensive training. The cartridge includes a portable microscope that can count bacterial colonies as they grow inside. The microscope automatically uploads results to a database for mapping, dissemination and cross-checking.
NGOs and governments conduct between five to ten million tests per year in the developing world and demand is expected to increase. WaterScope’s solution will allow more tests at a faster rate. Depending on the level of contamination, it can identify bacterial presence in under six hours, four times faster than current methods.
Dr Alexander Patto, Co-Founder and CEO, has led the team in developing the technology and conducting field trials to demonstrate its effectiveness. Supported by Oxfam and Unicef, WaterScope has carried out field trials in India and Tanzania to gather user feedback to inform design.
The technology has the potential to impact the developed world too. WaterScope is exploring how its solution could be a cost-effective alternative for water testing and field work in Europe where large bacterial testing laboratories carry out over 500 tests a day on a variety of water sources, including sewage and drinking water.
Dr Patto was awarded a 2018 Enterprise Fellowship to support him as he leads WaterScope in finalising its product design and starting small scale manufacturing.
Wluper is a London-based startup that has developed dialogue technology to create conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to power knowledge-based voice assistants. Most existing voice assistants understand commands, not conversations. They know a little about a broad range of subjects but few know a lot about a specific topic. Wluper builds intelligent-assistance technology for one domain at a time.
Wluper’s technology provides businesses with more advanced voice capabilities that are directly integrated within their existing services, and allows end users to interact with them in a more convenient and intuitive way. The company has created a system capable of handling dialogues that can return up to eight exchanges with the end user.
Hami Bahraynian is CEO of Wluper, which he co-founded in 2017. Hami is responsible for the company’s product strategy, business development and financial affairs. He joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and says “I would like to strengthen my communication skills to better convey goals, generate results and inspire trust. The programme has come at the right time as our company transitions from a research-driven business towards product application and market-adoption.”
Wluper has raised over $4 million from investors including Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures, IQ Capital, and Seedcamp. Now, the company is turning its conversational AI technology into scalable products with a focus on commercialisation over the coming year.
Joshua is researching and developing ground-breaking automatic mixing tools for audio and music production. He wants to enable amateur DJs and unsigned bands to produce professional quality recordings without the need for an expensive sound engineer.
His project LANDR (formerly MixGenius) uses technology run in the cloud or on a computer. Advanced algorithms ‘listen’ to the music while applying knowledge of the human hearing system.
This works in real time to distinguish between multiple sounds (either from a live gig or during post-production) and creates a professional quality mix with an optimised blend of the sounds.
Joshua is co-founder and board member of LANDR and Head of Audio Engineering at the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary University of London.
Bud Financial Ltd was launched in 2015 as a platform designed to improve users’ financial options. Now, the London startup is one of the leading exponents of ‘open banking’, which allows consumers to securely share financial information from their bank with other companies.
Bud’s technology gives banks the data intelligence and services they need to help customers manage their money more effectively. The company’s machine learning system uses lines of transactional data from a variety of banks to understand users’ preferences. It helps highlight where people spend, how they can save and what other financial services might be relevant.
Eloise Taysom is Head of Product at Bud, responsible for the company’s product development and strategy. She joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and hopes that the programme “will help me develop my leadership skills as we scale internationally and inspire new technical innovations. Bud’s next growth stage depends on making strategic product decisions, tactical hiring and successfully delivering our products in new markets.”
Bud Financial recently raised over $20 million in Series A round funding, gaining backing from several banks including HSBC, Goldman Sachs and ANZ. Now the company is aiming to rapidly scale-up its data services worldwide.
Tangi0 Ltd (TGØ) has created a sensing technology platform that takes advantage of traditional mass manufacturing methods such as injection moulding to create truly 3D touch- and pressure-sensitive surfaces. Instead of embedding traditional metallic sensors, TGØ’s patented technology engineers the internal structure and surfacing geometry of one conductive material. It detects touch pressure and location via advanced signal-processing algorithms and machine learning methods. The resulting conductive surfaces can be used to make one-piece, fully-customisable, 3D touch-sensitive interfaces.
This technology has been used to create intuitive finger-tracking VR controllers for immersive user experience, is being developed for ergonomic automotive interiors and has the potential to produce soft and flexible sports and health-related consumer products.
Francesca Perona is the Chief Innovation Officer for TGØ and is responsible for the technical development of the company’s touch and pressure technology. Francesca became an SME Leader in 2020. She says: “I want to take advantage of the programme’s training and mentorship to devise an effective innovation strategy for TGØ. I also manage the IP portfolio of the company and want to acquire negotiation skills around intellectual property in a commercial context.”
TGØ is now aiming to expand its range of licensing and joint development contracts across a variety of industries. Because the possible uses for TGØ’s technology are so varied, the rapidly growing company has to ensure that its growing smart materials platform meets industry-specific aesthetic and functional requirements across a diverse range of products. The flexibility of its technology means that sensing interfaces can be miniature or large, both heat-resistant and waterproof. TGØ can work with clients to develop stylish and intuitive interactive surfaces made from one uniform material.
Fake products are a major problem affecting a range of commercial interests and industries, from designer goods to medicine.
While he was a Research Associate in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Damian and his team developed an innovative anti-counterfeiting and brand authentication technology using lasers printed by standard inkjet printers.
Using low-cost, scalable print processing this new printed laser technology created truly unique optical signatures that can be applied to products. The technology can be used in a number of ways and can even combine multiple security elements within the same printed packaging, whether it be overt or aesthetic features or more discreet elements.
Damian realised that this would be invaluable to industries affected by counterfeiting and fraud. He founded the spin-out ilumink to further develop new approaches for physical authentication using these breakthroughs in printable laser technology. Shortly after his Enterprise Fellowship, Damian's company ilumink was acquired by Tracerco.
“The Enterprise Hub will be a focal point for my future activities, even when the Fellowship’s direct support has finished. The wealth of experience and networks, for example, will continue to be invaluable.”
Oxford Ionics is looking to revolutionise industries ranging from drug discovery to material design by building quantum computers. This new type of computer harnesses the power of quantum physics to solve problems that would be too challenging for a conventional supercomputer. Oxford Ionics has developed novel, electronically-controlled, trapped-ion technology, is setting a new standard for high-performance computing.
Dr Tom Harty co-founded Oxford Ionics in 2019 as a spin-out from the University of Oxford. Tom is the company’s CEO and joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021. He is looking forward to working with a mentor that has experience in scaling up high-tech engineering companies.
Over the coming year, Oxford Ionics will be bringing its first generation of quantum computers online and demonstrating the scalability of its technology.
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.
James uses storytelling to help innovative businesses reap the rewards of putting purpose at the heart of their business. Ranked in The Drum’s top 10 UK marketing influencers, he is a published author (Humanizing B2B), mentor and speaker. He’s passionate about helping technology and engineering companies achieve their potential to change the world for good.
James started out working in tech before moving into marketing, as he felt there was a real gap in the industry’s understanding of the fundamentals and potential of technology. After a prestigious grad role at Saatchi and Saatchi he joined Tidalwave in its newly formed strategy department, which shortly thereafter was ranked in the Financial Times’ Fasttrack top 50 fastest growing privately owned companies in the UK at the time. In two of his four years there he was recognised as the agency’s MVP.
He ran award-winning agency Mason Zimbler - recognised as ‘UK Agency of the Year’ by B2B Marketing, and then successfully sold it to a US marketing giant.
As Co-Founder of Rooster Punk, he helps ambitious companies achieve sustainable growth and profitability through a more human and meaningful approach to the way they build their brand. Rooster Punk works with startups like Currencycloud (now a unicorn), scale-ups, VCs and platforms like Crowdcube as well as corporates such as Tata and Samsung.
James is also an advisor, mentor and investor in several other businesses and charities.
Lisa has been building productive teams, driving change and helping people get organised for twenty-five years, working in multi-national corporates and investment banks before starting her own coaching business in 2017. She has extensive experience of hiring, managing and retaining great people and now works with founders and business owners across multiple sectors and industries to help them create inclusive cultures and strong, diverse teams.
Lisa is the bestselling author of The REAL Entrepreneur: How to simplify, grow and enjoy your business, and believes passionately that people management is a core skill for today’s entrepreneur. From her experience working with fast-growing businesses, she’s learned that while you can build a product without a team, it’s impossible to build a business without understanding how to build an inclusive culture and get the best from a diverse group of people. As an operational business coach, Lisa’s focus is always on the fundamental building blocks of business: people and processes.
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.”
Benedikt started his entrepreneurial journey during his undergraduate and has since built multiple companies across renewable energy, enterprise software, deep tech, drug discovery, and healthcare. As an experienced entrepreneur, he has raised millions in venture funding, scaled winning teams across multiple geographies, and closed over 100 deals, including with some of the largest global organisations.
Benedikt also supports several early stage companies, where he helps with fundraising, company strategy and founder journeys. He has mentored more than 50 early stage companies, many during a trip across the African continent.
In his latest venture, Sanome, aims to build a human digital twin to help people understand and maintain their health.
Lavaniya currently works as a Marketing Partner at bp Launchpad, where she serves as a strategic and tactical marketing advisor for portfolio companies.
Though her expertise and experience cover brand marketing, sales enablement and to marketing automation, she is most passionate about content, creative campaigns, and implementing blue ocean strategy. Whether the budget is small, big or non-existent, Lavaniya is able to adapt and utilise available resources to their highest potential and counts herself lucky to have learnt her craft through small failures rather than big successes.
After emigrating to Sweden, Lavaniya started her own media production company at the age of 21. She worked on feature films that never saw the light of day, TV programmes that did, and has produced around 2000 educational YouTube videos for a charity that teaches mathematics after school.
Lavaniya has worked with a diverse range of clients and businesses, spanning private and public sectors, and has lived in six countries across four continents.
After completing her MBA at HEC Paris, she worked in eSports (Fnatic), SaaS, and Telecommunications (at Croatia’s first unicorn company, Infobip) before jumping into the new world of Energy and tackling the energy transition. Outside of work, she’s writing her novel, participating in charity runs, and volunteering as a Trustee at the RSPCA in North London.
Former Inaugural Chair of the Enterprise Committee and a long-standing Academy Fellow, Ian Shott CBE FREng 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 the Founder and former Executive Chair of contract pharmaceutical development and manufacturing company ARCINOVA, which he sold to Quotient Sciences in February 2021 and continues as Senior Advisor to the board. Ian is also the Managing Director at investment and advisory firm Shott Trinova. 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 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 formerly 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”.
Roy Williamson has been helping companies see how their new innovations can disrupt markets for over 20 years.
For the past six years has been successfully helping early stage companies identify and define their strengths, enhance their uniqueness and develop their storylines to engage investors. Roy’s background is in engineering and cleantech and since 2013, he’s been supporting SMEs and entrepreneurs across a broad area of technologies and innovative business models.
Roy is an aeronautical engineer and started his career at Alstom, developing algorithms and models to estimate hardware costs of power generation gas turbines based purely on, often novel, thermodynamic cycles. He has assessed innovation ecosystems of the UK, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. He has also co-authored guides to support technology developers in the UK automotive sector assess technology readiness levels and help those in the biofuels sector to review pathways for second generation biofuels. He’s appraised novel technology solutions for blue-chip clients, developed proof of concepts and carried out due diligence activities to support investor decision making. He is passionate about the UK and knowledge-intensive companies, from software to deeptech.
Roy is Head of Origination at the Department for International Trade with relationships across the department’s teams, government and the UK’s innovation and investment ecosystem.
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.”
James Ashe first graduated in electronics and electrical engineering from the University of Glasgow. His postgraduate education was sponsored by The General Electric Company and he spent five years as Principal Research Engineer at the GEC-Marconi Research Centre. His research interests included: high-power, high-performance VLSI structures and devices, monolithic microwave integrated circuits and electronic interconnection and packaging.
He then joined Cambridge-based Anamartic (A Tandem Computer and Fujitsu Company) working on fault tolerant WSI (Wafer Scale Integration) devices. Jim was one of the first employees of Xaar PLC and was heavily involved in IP Licensing and fundamental in developing Xaar’s microfabrication facility on the Cambridge Science Park. He helped found Intense Photonics (a spin out based on IP in the field of quantum well intermixing - owned by the University of Glasgow) where he led the commercial activities. Intense Photonics raised over £56 million in private venture funding. Prior to joining the University of Edinburgh School of Informatics as Director of Commercialisation and Industry Engagement, he led the commercial activities in IP Licensing at the commercial arm of DSTL (Defence Scientific and Technical Laboratories). Jim is also the Director of Innovation at the Bayes Centre – the University of Edinburgh's innovation hub for data science and artificial intelligence.