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 the UK, 16 million homes built before 1960 have air-bricks installed to ventilate underfloor and indoor areas to prevent condensation. However, research has shown that vents left continuously open can lead to homes losing a considerable amount of heat. AirEx has developed a smart ventilation control that can be installed in place of the air-brick. Its sensors measure temperature, humidity and air quality while its algorithms enable automatic air flow regulation, while taking into account local weather and air quality data. AirEx opens to reduce underfloor humidity, and closes to reduce heat loss. The resulting flexibility in airflow can amount to a 10% to 15% reduction in energy bills.
Agnes Czako is Co-Founder and Managing Director of AirEx. Agnes joined the SME Leaders programme in 2020. She says: “Gaining new knowledge and tapping into a fantastic network of peers are two of the key elements for me. I think a course focusing on transformational leadership and leadership in a technology-driven world will be invaluable for me and the company.”
AirEx has received Ofgem approval and has market traction. The company is now aiming to rapidly scale up its business, hoping to be deployed in thousands of UK homes and across Europe where it’s estimated there are a further 35 million houses with old-fashioned air-bricks.
Widespread uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) is essential to reducing global emissions, but is currently hindered by EV battery performance, safety and associated cost. Breathe creates software for EV batteries that markedly improves these characteristics without requiring expensive and time-consuming hardware changes.
The health of a battery naturally deteriorates over the course of its lifetime. Breathe’s software monitors the health of the battery during its operation and uses this information to manage the battery intelligently, minimising degradation. This leads to enhanced vehicle performance, charging rate and safety. These benefits can be used flexibly, from creating much greater battery lifetime to enabling the use of cheaper batteries to lower project costs.
Breathe’s vision is to have an install-base of millions of units, improving the performance of all high-value systems reliant on batteries. It aims to be recognised as the provider of an essential battery management technology for any new battery pack. It is currently trialling its product with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and is hoping to deploy the software commercially in the next 12 months.
Breathe has demonstrated the effectiveness of its novel battery management software in a representative vehicle environment using commercially available batteries. Breathe’s software, which controls the current flow in and out of batteries, has demonstrated its ability to firstly extend the life of that battery by 2.4 times compared to conventional methods. It also increases the average vehicle range of that battery over its lifetime by as much as 5%. The technology is the subject of an ongoing patent application.
Michael Korn came up with the idea for portable, retractable screen dividers after observing the problems that medical staff and patients face in hospitals. His research uncovered a need for more side room capacity, providing extra private and segregated spaces. Using a new glass fibre composite, Michael developed portable, retractable partitions that can swiftly turn any open-plan ward into smaller, more discreet and isolated spaces.
KwickScreens can also be printed with views of nature or artistic patterns. It was this difference from traditional hospital curtains that helped provide early success. A new breastfeeding mother appreciated being alone with her baby surrounded by calming colours. A grieving family was able to spend the last few days with their loved one in a secluded environment.
The KwickScreen enabled a patient space to be swiftly created anywhere. It could also act as an isolation room for immunosuppressed or infectious patients who might otherwise be in an open ward at risk of contracting or spreading healthcare acquired infections.
Michael founded KwickScreen in 2008. By 2020, over 100 NHS Trusts were using his partitions in critical care units, theatres, recovery wards and maternity units. The hygienic and easy-to-clean screens really came into their own during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, KwickScreens have been supporting the NHS and it was partly for this reason that Michael joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021.
Michael says “I need to make sure that I grow, in order to stay ahead of the company’s rapid expansion! I believe the programme will help establish valuable external connections and potential partnerships. Most importantly it will help me develop as a business leader, enabling us to get new ambitious projects off the ground capitalising on the exciting opportunities ahead of us.”
In two years, the KwickScreen company has increased its revenue from £1 million a year to over £6 million. It is now well placed to replace medical curtains in North America, Japan and Europe. Originally developed for hospital and healthcare environments, it is now also being used in public and work spaces.
Founder and CEO, Lightpoint Medical
Lightpoint Medical has developed a novel imaging device to improve success in cancer surgery by helping surgeons to remove cancerous tissue, while leaving healthy tissue intact.
The groundbreaking device brings real-time molecular imaging to the operating room, improving health outcomes for cancer patients. The technology is based on the use of Cerenkov luminescence imaging. Dr David Tuch, CEO and Founder, recognised this would have significant diagnostic potential when combined with imaging techniques that observe metabolic processes.
As an intraoperative device, it can be used to guide surgeons so that they can avoid leaving behind microscopic cancerous cells, increasing the likelihood that all target tissue is removed in one surgery. This would prevent patients needing repeat surgeries and minimise any delays to follow-on treatments.
The device can also reduce healthcare costs by making both surgery and follow-on treatment more efficient.
Support from the SME Leaders Programme has allowed David to strengthen skills in strategic marketing and competitive strategy through bespoke training. Since receiving the award in 2017, David’s team has doubled in size to 22 employees. Lightpoint Medical has also raised approximately £4 million in grant funding from organisations in the UK and US and successfully closed a £5 million Series B fundraising round in 2018.
Lightpoint Medical is now working on clinical validation and early commercialisation of its first robotic probe for cancer surgery.
Sycous Ltd design software and integrated systems for heat and energy network operators. Local authorities and housing associations use the company’s systems to measure, control, manage and administer their energy networks.
Sycous supplies integrated systems for shared and communal energy schemes to accurately and remotely meter, collect data and control their energy systems. The heat network industry provides approximately 2% of the UK’s heat demand, with Sycous servicing 18% of that market. The company has recently entered the United Arab Emirates’ district cooling market, which is expected to be a multi-billion dollar industry in the coming years.
Sycous also developed the UK’s first cloud-based, remote-data collection administration software for the district heating and communal energy market.
Joseph Collier is Co-Founder and Product and Development Director at Sycous. Joseph joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021. He says “I would like the programme to help develop my general management and design communication skills. The mentoring sounds great too. I benefitted from this when I was at university and look forward to the knowledge and opportunities that it will bring.”
Sycous has been through several periods of growth since it launched in 2014. It has produced a range of new metering and data collection systems over the years, as well as cloud software for consumer management, automated billing and asset tracking. Now, the company is about to launch a new software product that Joseph feels will bring new functionality to its products and increase demand.
Terrabotics uses powerful algorithmic engines to turn large volumes of satellite imagery into practical 3D maps for industries in the natural resources and energy sectors.
The company uses automated data analysis to rapidly create accurate, high-resolution, 3D digital maps with detailed geospatial information. These comprehensive insights help companies to visualise risks and make smarter decisions. They are designed to support industries that frequently navigate hostile, hazardous areas to improve safety and help them work more efficiently.
Terrabotics’ solutions are used by a growing list of high-profile clients that includes BP, De Beers Group, ExxonMobil and Shell. It plans to further develop its client base through the launch of new products for the oil and gas, mining and metals sectors. In 2018, Terrabotics was awarded a £435,000 contract from the European Space Agency and UK Space to develop Energy SCOUT™, a new solution for oil and gas supply chain monitoring from space.
Gareth Morgan, CEO and Founder, draws on expertise as a scientist and engineer to take a hands-on approach to leadership and strategy development. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme since 2017, Gareth Morgan has participated in training in leadership and business growth. During that time, his team has grown by four staff and there are plans for it to double in size to support Terrabotics’ next phase of growth.
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.
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.