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.
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
Additive manufacturing (AM) has opened up new ways to make smart industrial products. However, the aeronautic and automotive industries often produce parts using design software that pre-dates 3D printing. New design software was required that would be flexible enough to keep up with ongoing advances in AM.
Dr Francesco Montomoli, a Reader in Computational Aerodynamics at Imperial College London, worked on the idea for new design software for AM with PhD students Audrey Gaymann and Marco Pietropaoli. After three years’ work they had made enough breakthroughs and generated sufficient interest to launch TOffeeAM Ltd to commercialise their code.
The company’s software uses innovative mathematical modeling to design and improve components used in aircraft and car engines. It is able to explore geometric complexities within systems and has already been used to develop new designs for heat exchangers, fuel nozzles and valves. The heat transfer capabilities of TOffeeAM allows the code to be robust and accurate for aerospace applications. The interactive capabilities of their system means that it can work up to 20 times faster than existing design tools. By making components more resilient, lighter and more robust it can make some products 40% more fuel efficient.
The company has already been used to make components for world-leading AM businesses like General Electric Aviation and Baker Hughes. TOffeeAM is now aiming to consolidate its place in aviation and automotive industries while seeing if other fields, such as oil and gas, will also exploit this new resource.
Dr Montomoli says: “The Enterprise Fellowship has given us a great opportunity to learn from experienced people in several fields, from marketing to IP. An added bonus is being able to engage with the other fellows, sharing common challenges and opportunities.
Accepted onto Imperial College London’s Techcelerate programme
2018 Co-founder Marco Pietropaoli made an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Prize Fellowship
2019 Co-founder Audrey Gaymann made an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Prize Fellowship
2019 AWS Programmable prize
2020 Entrepreneur First invest £80,000 to help launch the company
Visit their website: www.toffeeam.co.uk
For a lot of applications, biobased chemicals have enhanced functionality compared to chemically produced products. However, biochemicals produced by fermentation require large volume vessels to make them, owing to the slow conversion of raw materials with the microorganisms used. This makes them much more expensive to produce and so they tend to only be used for niche applications.
Dr Ben Dolman, Co-Founder and CEO of Holiferm, has helped develop gravity-based separation technology that dramatically reduces the cost of production of lipid bioproducts, particularly biosurfactants. Most surfactants used in the cosmetic industry are irritants, and many in the agricultural market are toxic endocrine disruptors, with bans coming into place for some of these surfactants.
Dr Dolman says: “By using gravity, Holiferm’s new technology requires less energy and no solvents. The new process allows us to recover insoluble lipids from the production vessel as they are produced, alongside major improvements in the fermentation process. This has enabled us to reduce the vessel volume fourfold, reducing production costs by more than 50%.”
Holiferm recently agreed its first technology license with a leading surfactant company. The company is now raising investment to build its first commercial plant producing over 1,000 tonnes of biosurfactant a year.
Dr Dolman says: “The financial contribution from the Enterprise Fellowship has enabled us to accelerate Holiferm’s growth and provided the financial security required for raising our first venture capital investment round. The business support has also helped to solidify our commercialisation plans, moving towards the construction of the commercial production facility we are currently fundraising for.”
2018 – Dr Dolman and Dr James Winterburn awarded £10,000 for winning the ‘Early Career’ category of the BBSRC’s Innovator of the Year awards
2018 – Technology demonstrated at pilot scale at three commercial collaborator sites
2018 – First commercial license of Holiferm technology
2019– £200,000 follow-on funding from Innovate UK
2019 – ICOS Capital confirm investment in Holiferm
2020 – Multiple joint application development projects with financial contributions from major surfactant producers and formulators
In the future, every vehicle manufactured will have some degree of autonomy and they will all need to ‘see’ the world around them. The leading solution for machine vision is light detection and ranging (LiDAR), which uses laser pulses to build a 3D model of the environment around the vehicle. However, lasers travel in a straight line and need rotating mirrors to guide them in the right direction. The moving parts for these systems make them bulky and expensive.
Dr Richard Taylor is the founder of the University of Glasgow spin out Vector Photonics. He has invented photonic crystal lasers that push the boundary of what is possible with semiconductor lasers. He has developed a laser that can be electronically steered in two dimensions. Instead of doing the steering with conventional moving parts, it can do it electronically. This removes the need for the LiDAR set up to have mirrors, reducing both system size and cost.
Vector Photonics has had two patents granted and has demonstrated that it can make lasers in a laboratory. The company has also made lasers in a commercial foundry to show that they can also be created in an industrial setting, not just a university laboratory.
Dr Taylor says: “We now have to focus on making them for customer specification. We have another 18 months of development work before we can start selling them at scale. We’re now looking to raise investment for that phase of things.”
He continues: “The Enterprise Fellowship was important for me as it provided useful business training while giving me the time to work on developing the company’s business case.”
2014 Dr Taylor gains the Institution of Engineering and Technology
postgraduate scholarship award for his work with lasers
2018 Kickstart business competition finalist
2018 Secured funding from ICURe
2019 £70,000 of funding from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and £30,000 from a Glasgow company to support that award
2020 RBS six-month accelerator programme providing training, mentorship and office space
Visit their website: www.vectorphotonics.co.uk
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.
The annual health cost to Europe is estimated at over €50 billion from exposure to emerging contaminants in contaminated water called Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Existing water treatment procedures either require excessive energy or hazardous chemicals and cannot filter out such micro-pollutants, including pharmaceuticals and pesticides.
Henrik Hagemann believes he has the key to resolving this and for treating over 300,000 hectares of land that is contaminated by water pollution in the UK.
His company Puraffinity (formerly CustoMem) is using material engineering to produce selective adsorbent media that can harness hazardous chemicals. They selectively filter out specific pollutants that currently can't be captured. This solution is 10 times cheaper to produce than competing advanced treatments and the adsorbent media can uniquely be regenerated on site using a safe liquid wash, leading to sustainable disposal of captured chemicals.
Puraffinity aims to sell granular adsorbent media internationally and fully engineered water treatment units in the EU, to major industries facing regulatory pressures such as airports and chemical companies. This would provide a cost effective, sustainable way to eliminate contamination from supply chains.
Puraffinity has already partnered with a global water engineering procurement company to remove PFAS from various sources and have executed successful in-house pilots with one of Europe’s busiest airports. The technology has raised over £4 million in grant and venture funding and a tech portfolio manager from Severn Trent has joined as full-time chief commercial executive. The firm has also won multiple awards at the world’s largest synthetic biology competition at MIT.
Stress and anxiety are now a pandemic. 18.1% of Americans live with an anxiety disorder and the World Health Organization estimates the annual cost of workplace stress in the US has grown from $190bn in 2017 to $300bn in 2018. These complex and rapidly growing problems have few good solutions and are not only costly but have a huge impact on quality of life.
Jack co-founded the company, doppel, to create a wristband that seamlessly interacts with our bodies to help us achieve the optimal state of mind for whatever situation we find ourselves in.
The wristband creates a silent rhythmic pulse that you feel on the inside of your wrist. Its heartbeat-like vibration works naturally, within moments, to help you feel calm, focussed, energised or relaxed. Like listening to music, a fast rhythm helps you to feel more alert while a slower rhythm is calming.
Doppel’s wristband can be used to reduce stress and stay focused. Those in high-stress jobs use it to stay anchored and calm. It has been used to overcome nerves at important events, manage anxiety and by those with ADHD to stay focused.
The technology is inspired by psychophysiology - the study of the relationship between the mind and the body and has been shown to reduce stress in controlled, peer-reviewed tests. User trials have also shown that it helps with concentration over longer periods, remaining calm under pressure or maintaining motivation during fitness training.
The wristband offers an alternative to traditional energy supplements, meditation and music as a way to achieve calm, concentration and focus. Following a successful Kickstarted campaign, the company is now focused on delivering its technology more widely to impact the growing mental-wellbeing market.
Jack was awarded a 2016 RAEng 1851 Royal Commission Enterprise Fellowship to support doppel in manufacturing smart wearables and bringing them to market.
Skin Analytics has developed a new screening technology, DERM AI, that uses artificial intelligence to quickly and accurately detect cancerous and pre-cancerous skin lesions including melanoma, the most dangerous of the common skin cancers. The company’s machine learning algorithms can identify skin cancer from an image of a skin lesion, helping clinicians to ensure that more cases of melanoma are caught at the earliest opportunity.
During consultation a picture is taken of a suspect pigmented lesion using a dermascope and image capture device. DERM AI identifies cancerous, pre-cancerous lesions and noncancerous lesions. Typically, fewer than 10% of dermatological referrals in the UK have significant skin cancer. This device enables GPs to triage more accurately and helps to diagnose problems at the patient’s first port of call.
Jack Greenhalgh is the Artificial Intelligence Director at Skin Analytics. Jack is responsible for designing, validating and implementing all AI and machine learning aspects of the business. He became an SME Leader in 2018 and says that the programme has helped him in several ways. “It provided funding for training that has proved invaluable in terms of learning new leadership and management skills. The mentoring was important too as I was able to discuss all types of business issues in a way that was both objective and confidential.”
In 2020, following successful series A funding, Skin Analytics is expanding its operations in the US after being awarded ‘Breakthrough Device Designation’ by the country’s Food and Drug Administration. The company is also increasing its presence in the UK where it has deployed a live AI-based skin diagnosis service in conjunction with University Hospital Birmingham.
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.
Professor Dick Whittington FREng is an entrepreneur, business mentor and investor, focusing on the software industry and digital marketplaces, with over 30 years of experience in business. His experience has included co-founding a successful international software business recognised in UK through three Queen's Awards covering both innovation and international trade.
In 2012 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering where he plays an active role, including as a mentor for early-stage technology startups and spin-outs through its highly successful Enterprise Hub. He is also an active mentor and angel investor within several London and regional technology accelerator programmes, and is Honorary Professor of Business Innovation at the University of York.
Prior to pursuing business interests, Dick lectured in computer science at the University of York. He managed a successful research team and published several research papers and books. His latest book Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Cambridge University Press, 2018) provides an introduction to digital business for STEM students and early-stage entrepreneurs.
"The concept of the Enterprise Hub resonated with me as a solid, practical initiative to benefit UK engineering through engaging the Academy’s extraordinary network of talent. The role of the Hub in launching and scaling such businesses is of enormous value to the UK economy and the engineering profession.”
Paul Taylor FREng has led the delivery of some of the most demanding national security programmes in the UK, operating at the very highest levels of government. He is uniquely qualified to understand the evolving threat environment, as well as having an exceptional track record of driving and delivering change in complex organisations. Paul’s contribution to the world of science technology was recognised by his election as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2013, where he now sits on its Engineering Policy Committee.
Paul is Deputy Managing Director at AWE plc, where he is responsible for providing the AWE Board and UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) with assurance of delivery of the £1 billion per annum nuclear warhead programme. Prior to this, he was Director General of Technology and Chief Information Officer in a central government department, where he was a member of both ExCo and the main board.
He held the position of Director General of Strategic Technologies and then Director General of Equipment in MOD, and Senior Responsible Owner for the UK’s Future Nuclear Deterrent. Paul was the first Chief Executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL). The post carried responsibility for all elements of defence research and the 3,000 staff that were retained within government following the split of MOD R&D activities into QinetiQ and DSTL.
A member of several government technical advisory committees, Paul also chairs the Advisory Board of the Imperial College Institute of Security Science and Technology. He is currently advising and exercising several global retail and investment banks at board level, helping to address their cyber and information protection challenges. Paul sits on a number of bank board risk committee advisory panels.
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.”
Dr Liane Smith FREng founded Intetech Ltd in 1991, winning the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2012 for its software. She sold the business to Wood Group in 2013 and in 2018 she left to form a new consulting engineering business, Larkton Ltd.
Liane is enthusiastic about the capability of digital technologies to transform businesses, bringing efficiencies, cost reduction, production control and increasing safety. In her last role as Senior Vice President Digital Solutions for Wood, she built the new global service line and defined its strategy roadmap and development plan. Her expertise is in various specialist branches of engineering in the industrial and energy sectors and in software product design and commercialisation, data management, data analysis, and analytics.
“I try to fill in gaps in mentees experience and give them confidence in their decisions. Typically we touch on building strong teams, role and task delegation, agile development, growing sales, exporting and strategy."
Sir Peter Bonfield CBE FREng is a leading international business executive with over 50 years’ experience in the fields of electronics, computers and communications. Change management in international technology companies has been at the centre of his long and illustrious career.
Since 2002 Sir Peter has been involved with a diverse portfolio of companies and is currently operating at main board level or director of several companies in the US, Europe and the Far East. In the past, he has served in as CEO of ICL and more recently of BT Group.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (1993), the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the British Computer Society, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Marketing Society and the Royal Society of Arts.
Sir Peter is a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, Freeman of the City of London, Honorary Citizen of Dallas, Texas and Member of The Pilgrims of Great Britain.
More information about Sir Peter can be found at www.sirpeterbonfield.com
Scientist and entrepreneur Dr Graeme Malcolm is CEO and founder of the multi-award-winning photonics and quantum technology company, M Squared. M Squared is headquartered in the UK with offices globally and is one of the UK's most innovative and disruptive technology businesses, well-known for creating the world's purest light.
Graeme finds technological and entrepreneurial solutions to some of society's greatest problems from improving healthcare to halting climate change. He's a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, The Royal Society Edinburgh, and The Institute of Physics and his achievements include an OBE for his services to Science and Innovation, The Swan Medal from the Institute of Physics, and Entrepreneur of the Year at the Amazon Growing Business Awards.
Dr Mark Selby joined Ceres Power in 2006 as a control systems engineer and spent several years in various leadership roles. In 2013, he became Chief Technology Officer as part of deploying a new corporate strategy to embed Ceres Technology through licensing to world-leading product companies like Bosch, Weichai, Doosan and Honda.
Mark is responsible for all aspects of the Steel Cell technology and brings 20 years of experience in clean technology product development, always working in multidisciplinary teams to solve hard science and engineering problems. As CTO, he sits at the interface of the commercial, technology, shareholders and wider stakeholders’ worlds and uses this insight to build ambitious collaborative programs that create value for everyone involved in the journey.
Prior to joining Ceres Power, he was part of the Control and Electronics Team at Ricardo UK Limited. Mark has degrees in electronics, dynamics and control systems from the University of Leeds and is a charted engineer.
His mission is to get world-changing science out of the lab and into products that actually change the world.
Professor Roger Benson FREng retired from full-time employment 2003. Since retiring he has been a part time consultant in world-class performance, working with the NDA and other organisations. In addition he has been a Chairman/Director of four university spin-out companies: PAROS (failed), Perceptive Engineering Ltd (recently sold), Industrial Tomography Systems (slow growth) and TDL Sensors Ltd (sold). When requested he is also an assessor for Innovate UK, EPSRC and EU projects.
Roger has been a judge for the UK Best Factory Awards for over 20 years. During that period he has visited and benchmarked over 200 of the best UK manufacturing plants across all industries.
Over a 35-year industrial career Roger worked for ICI. Positions included Chief Engineer of ICI Engineering Technology and Head of the Global Control / Electrical Function. He created and managed the ICI internal Manufacturing Technology capability. In 1993 he was seconded to the DTI Innovation Unit for two years where he coordinated and published the Winning Report. For the last four years of his career he was acquired by ABB where he was the Global Technology Programmes for ABB Analytics and Advanced Solutions, and an Executive member of ABB Process Solutions.
In 1999 he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He has published over 80 papers, and given many presentations on innovation, process control, benchmarking, world-class manufacturing and the future of the Process Industries. In 1999 Roger wrote and published the Institution of Chemical Engineers book, Benchmarking Process Manufacturing. It is still the only book on the subject. He has been a Visiting Professor to three UK universities.
Professor Clive Buckberry FREng is the Chief Engineer and Technology Officer of Quanta Dialysis Technologies, a company that provides dialysis systems for renal patients. He has been in the role since Quanta was established in 2008, was a co-founder and has been an integral part of the original team that has since raised over £110 million in venture capital funding following its launch.
Clive has a broad remit to direct and influence technology development and its implementation within Quanta. He has also had direct responsibility for the clinical evaluation and regulatory strategy of the haemodialysis machine, and the engineering development of the extracorporeal pathway and currently leads a team of over 50 engineers.
Previously Clive worked for the BMW group with responsibility for the vehicle physics department. In 2001, he became an honorary professor within the Department of Engineering and Physics at Heriot-Watt University and in 2011 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.