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.
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.
Gravity Sketch is an intuitive 3D design platform enabling cross-disciplinary teams to collaborate in an exciting new way. The technology allows designers to conceptualise their plans without needing to learn to use computer-aided-design (CAD) software, from concept sketches through to detailed 3D models using augmented reality, virtual reality and touch technologies. Users can view and manage their designs on their desktop and integrate Gravity Sketch within their end-to-end workflow. Design teams can reduce concept-time processes by up to 60%. The company aims to fundamentally change the workflows of engineers and industrial designers by speeding up the design process, saving money and making collaborations between stakeholders more efficient.
Oluwaseyi Sosanya is a mechanical engineer who co-founded Gravity Sketch Ltd in 2014. Oluwaseyi has used his experience in manufacturing physical products to focus the development of the software to solve spatial and ergonomic challenges in real-time. Now, users can make their workflows with existing CAD and rendering software immersive.
Oluwaseyi became an SME Leader in 2019 and credits the programme with promoting his business acumen. “It has provided me with a mentor who has helped me further develop my leadership skills, augment my strategic business skills, and make better decisions about growth and market focus.”
Since becoming an SME Leader, the company has raised £3 million in seed investments and been awarded a Horizon 2020 grant of £2 million, as well as increasing its workforce by a third. During the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for design teams to work from home, it became more important for remote workers to be able to integrate their work online. The increased adoption of immersive 3D technologies and cloud computing has benefited Gravity Sketch. The company is widening its customer base and increasing its direct-to-consumer sales.
“Not only has the Enterprise Hub opened me up to new professional networks, it has also helped me to readily access knowledge that is accelerating our efforts to bring our innovation to market."
and Chief Technology Officer, Oxford HighQ
Oxford HighQ is a spin-out company from the University of Oxford’s Departments of Materials and Chemistry. It is developing nanoparticle sensing instruments that are up to 10,000 times more sensitive than available optical sensing technologies. The company has engineered a way of producing large-scale, repeatable, high precision optical microcavities for the first time.
These sensors will enable new tools to be created in pharmaceutical and medical research, as well as food and water monitoring. This technology could prove a step-change in performance for chemical and nanoparticle sensing.
Aurélien Trichet is Co-Founder and CTO at Oxford HighQ, managing the R&D team and directing technology development. He became an SME Leader in 2020 and is looking forward to using the programme. He says: “This opportunity is ideal for me. It will allow me to move from a heavy academic skillset to a more business and technology management one. The workshop, coaching and mentoring will all help me make this transition.”
Oxford HighQ is aiming to transition from R&D to mass production in 2021. Its first product provides a way to measure drug loading and delivery profiles as well as particle size for nanomedicine applications. As a consequence, researchers within academic institutions, SMEs and pharmaceutical companies will have better quality assurance procedures, a crucial requirement in this valuable industry.
Research shows that 23% of the
world’s energy is lost through tribological contact, which is the wear and
friction generated by interacting surfaces in motion.
Tribosonics Limited, a Sheffield company, has developed sensing technology to tackle wear, friction and lubrication issues in rotating equipment. The business venture designs, manufactures and installs high-end, often bespoke, ultrasonic sensing and data capture platforms across many industrial sectors.
Tribosonics inserts sensors within bearings, seals and other moving parts to create smart components that can measure and monitor tribological contact as well as other performance and structural metrics. The generated data helps companies to extend plant life, prevent critical failures, shorten maintenance cycles and reduce energy use through improved operational efficiency.
Christina King is the Chief Commercial Officer for Tribosonics, responsible for building innovative commercial partnerships with large corporations. Christina joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and says “I want to gain business insights and build networks that will help develop my personal journey, as well as scale-up the company.”
In 2020, Tribosonics secured over £1 million of equity investment from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, via Mercia Asset Management. This will enable the company to double in size over the next three years. It is now looking to further expand its patented ultrasonic sensing technologies into global industrial markets.
Lightpoint Medical develops molecular imaging and sensing technologies to help surgeons detect cancer in real time during surgery. In spite of the technological advances in robotic surgery, surgeons still depend on their eyesight to detect cancer intra-operatively. As a result, surgeons sometimes leave cancer behind or remove more healthy tissue than needed.
The company’s award-winning SENSEI® technology, a miniaturised intra-operative cancer detection probe, gives surgeons a chance to fully remove cancer in one procedure, while retaining healthy tissue. It can be used across many major cancer types including stomach, colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancer.
Dr Kunal Vyas is the Head of Research at Lightpoint Medical, responsible for evaluating new technologies, overseeing research projects and developing the company’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio. Kunal joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021. He says “I hope that the programme’s strategic innovation management initiative will maximise my performance as we commercialise and scale-up. I will also benefit from access to workshops and speaker events on topics such as IP management and pitching.”
In 2021, SENSEI® received CE mark, enabling it to be sold in the European Economic Area. Lightpoint Medical has begun multi-centre clinical trials with the probe. The company will now transition from being an R&D-focused organisation into a commercial enterprise.
Loudspeakers are used in billions of devices worldwide including smartphones, laptops, tablets and smart speakers. For nearly 100 years, the dominant technology to reproduce sound has been the dynamic loudspeaker. One of the main mechanisms it uses is the voice coil transducer, a very simple device that also has significant drawbacks in terms of electrics, mechanics and acoustics.
Dominika Behounik is Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of Arya Audio Labs. The company was formed with Arthur Marker to develop audio products. One of these was the AirBlade transducer. Instead of trying to incrementally improve a 100-year old imperfect design, it approached the problem from a different, disruptive angle.
Rather than using a heavy diaphragm with separate voice coil, the AirBlade transducer incorporates ultralight ring-shaped foil elements arranged in layers with conductive traces of aluminium bonded to it. When an electrical signal is applied, opposite layers of the diaphragm either move towards or away from each other depending on the direction of the current, thereby moving air and creating sound.
By distributing the diaphragm area over several layers and implementing a curved shape, AirBlade avoids the typical beaming problem of traditional drivers while achieving higher power handling, reduced distortion and better air coupling due to its large diaphragm surface area. The transducer’s radiation pattern can also be tailored to specific requirements of the application it is driving.
Arya Audio Labs has manufactured in-house since its inception. It uses advanced prototyping tools including 3D printing, 5 axis CNC machines and state-of-the-art measurement facilities. The company started shipping the AirBlade directly to customers at the beginning of 2020 and it proved a very popular seller. It is now looking for ways to improve and speed up the processes to help deliver highest quality products.
The audio market has been on the rise for the past couple of years, with an abundance of streaming services available as well as vinyl records experiencing a come-back. The company’s technology has been especially well received at the high end of the market and in the automotive audio sectors, two markets that are worth over £1 billion a year alone.
Dominika says of the Enterprise Fellowship: “I come from an academic background, where it’s natural to focus your efforts on developing technology and forget that you are actually trying to run a business! The Fellowship has given me an excellent opportunity to shift that mindset, and strike a good balance between the two.”
– Arya Audio Labs debuts at High End Munich as a Newcomer
2018 – First product, RevOpod, starts shipping
2019 – RevOpod receives Best of 2018 award by Mono and Stereo
2019 – AirBlade loudspeaker starts shipping to original equipment manufacturing partners
2020 – AirBlade loudspeaker becomes available for end customers
Visit their website: www.arya-audio.com
Grakn Labs have developed a system called Grakn, an open-source intelligent database. Grakn handles large amounts of complex data through knowledge engineering – commonly known as knowledge graphs. It is the world’s first database with a schema powered by a knowledge representation system and uses a query language called Graql to enable this.
Grakn’s database technology provides the knowledge base foundation for artificial intelligence systems used in various industries, including financial services, defence and security, life sciences, robotics and cyber security.
Tomás Sabat is the Chief Operating Officer at Grakn Labs, responsible for generating sales, marketing and finance. He develops strategic relationships with clients who can benefit from Grakn’s ability to easily model, query and analyse complex information in a simple and logical way.
Tomás joined the SME Leaders programme in 2018. He says: “The scheme has given us an introduction to investors and provided leadership and media training. It has also supplied us with networking opportunities with other engineering businesses in the UK.”
Grakn Labs has doubled its staff in two years and raised £2.4 million of funding. It is now ready to produce at scale, both in terms of commercial adoption as well as scaling its technology.
MySense Ltd has created a wellbeing analytics platform for people with declining health, enabling them to live independently in their own homes. Its system uses a network of wearable and fixed sensors in a property. Using artificial intelligence and the internet of things, the platform learns a person’s pattern of behaviour, while building up an informed picture of a user’s health condition.
Thousands of data points track a user’s nutrition, hydration, independence, activity and overall sense of wellbeing. A smartwatch records heart rate and step count, while an easy-to-use dashboard displays the information, highlighting any unusual patterns and triggering a notification to a nominated responder.
MySense monitoring data doesn’t record video or sound as there are no cameras or microphones. The real-time data allows family members, friends, clinicians and care givers to stay informed about a person’s wellbeing. Detailed evaluations through use have shown significant reductions in GP appointments, 999 calls and unplanned hospital admissions.
Lucie Glenday is Co-Founder and Group CEO of MySense. Lucie joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and is looking forward to two specific programme initiatives. She says “Having a mentor will allow me to talk through decisions the company is making and how to position these in order to gain maximum impact. And I’m hoping that learning at one of the world’s top universities will further develop my leadership skills.”
MySense consists of data scientists, engineers, testers, clinical researchers and a commercially-experienced management team. The company is growing quickly and is now working on raising brand awareness, building a research partnership network and preparing its platform for international markets.
When Mohammed Belal became an SME Leader in 2019, he had already co-founded MIRICO, a company developing laser sensing technology for real-time gas sensing. Now, Mohammed is setting up a new venture, Celestial Eye, a spin-out from RAL Space.
Celestial Eye is developing innovative space-borne sensors deployed in a constellation to obtain global high-precision weather data. The project is working on providing high-resolution profiles of moisture and temperature across the atmosphere. This will improve the observation and forecasting of weather patterns as well as monitoring climate change.
Mohammed credits the SME Leader programme with honing his entrepreneurial skills, He says: “I gained valuable insights from other SME Leaders about startups and networking. It also helped me develop my management capabilities and the fundamental skills required to set up and scale businesses.”
Mohammed is responsible for setting up the venture and defining business strategy for the launch and development. He is currently focused on raising capital to build an engineering team and launch its first satellite. The mission will improve observations of weather systems, and more accurately forecast extreme events.
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.