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.
Methane leakage from a gas distribution network (GDN) has serious environmental and financial implications. Methane is 84 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 and it causes an estimated the global loss in revenue of £16 billion. The most practical way of reducing leakage is through improved management of the pressures in networks. However, existing technology is time-consuming to install and needs constant manual intervention.
Utonomy has developed an innovative control system that includes a motorised actuator, which can be retrofitted to gas governors already installed across a GDN, and a cloud-based data platform. Utonomy’s grid-monitoring software and algorithms allow GDNs to better control and manage pressures on their network.
Claire-Elise Orleach is the Head of Business Development at Utonomy. She is responsible for the company’s stakeholder management across gas utilities and for its sales and marketing initiatives. Claire-Elise joined the SME Leaders programme in 2020 and says: “The training, mentorship and coaching offered by the programme will be a support to me and the company as we the transition to commercialisation. There will be significant opportunities in the UK as the gas grid is digitised and Utonomy aims to lead in this space with smartgrid solutions.”
Utonomy’s new technology has the potential to greatly reduce the global problem of methane leakage from GDNs worldwide. Following a series of trials, Utonomy is about to launch its first product. Its innovation should enable GDNs to achieve their environmental targets and improve their operational efficiency.
Damien has been researching and developing wearable neurotechnology hardware and software to non-invasively measure and translate brainwaves into control signals. These allow people to communicate and interact with computers without moving - using only their minds.
His project NeuroCONCISE aims to empower people with physical impairments caused by disease or injury.
Damien has conducted trials with spinal injury, stroke and traumatic brain injury victims, engaging in pioneering work with patients at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dublin, Ireland.
He has also developed a videogame, dubbed NeuroSensi. Described as a mind-controlled version of the Wii gaming platform, it helps patients improve their ability to modulate brain activity. It helps to motivate and challenge them whilst they learn to control neurotechnology.
NeuroSensi can also be used for ‘gamified’ training to help people recover hand control function after stroke. Plus it has attractive gameplay elements that may appeal to the general gamer and consumer.
The interpretation of brainwaves has a wide array of potential applications outside healthcare, too. From aiding covert communications to data analytics, neurotechnology can be used while humans scan enormous data sets to automatically flag items of interest by interpreting changes in their brainwaves, dramatically speeding up data analytics.
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.
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
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.
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.