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.
When a manufacturer, for example a car maker, wants a new component made, it will go to a supplier with its specifications. To make this new item, the supplier needs material multi-axial property data to predict its materials’ response in the manufacturing process. Existing testing methods cannot supply such data across all possible temperature and stress states.
To solve this issue, Dr Zhutao Shao and his colleagues from Imperial College London have developed and patented the world’s first high-temperature multi-axial material testing system. This patented testing process involves stretching a piece of material from multiple directions and under different service conditions until it fractures. Customers are then given the data and can use it to optimise their material’s structure.
Most existing systems use room temperature for testing and some may go up to 300° to 500°C. Dr Shao’s innovation can go over 1,000°C when needed. This option is important when judging how a material will behave under various stress states during the hot stamping manufacturing process. His multi-axial testing also undertakes fatigue, tension and compression testing of materials within a wide range of temperatures. The suite of checks are labelled ‘hot multi-axial tests’.
Multi-X Solutions already collaborates with car component suppliers for lightweight structural design and production of vehicles and will start trial sales in 2020. The company currently has one service and two products open to the transportation industry. Multi-X Solutions also has a materials database that will be added to as the company conducts tests on more engineering materials and structures.
The market that Multi-X are working in stands at £850 million worldwide and is rapidly expanding. The company is now looking to further develop and standardise the cost-effective testing methods for the data-driven advanced manufacturing industry.
2018 Awarded Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Impact Acceleration Account funding
2018 Awarded title of the Most Valuable Project in Tencent Auto Open Platform Competition
2019 Dr Zhutao Shao was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2020 Accepted onto Imperial Techcelerate Programme
Phil Horton is the managing director of Dulas Ltd, an international worker-owned co-operative in the field of renewable energy. The company has been providing renewable energy installations for 30 years. The company started by installing solar power in Kenya in 1984, followed by solar powered blood banks in Sudan, pioneering innovative uses of renewable energy.
Dulas develops and delivers renewable energy solutions to a range of clients, including businesses, charities and landowners. In the UK, Dulas is currently working on wind, solar and hydro projects, including installing wind monitoring instruments for the world’s biggest offshore windfarm, while overseas it is mainly focused on its work on solar powered vaccine fridges.
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.
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.
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.
COO and Co-founder, Open Bionics
Open Bionics have created the Hero Arm, an affordable, 3D printed, multi-grip bionic hand. Lightweight and durable, the Hero Arm is an empowering, medically-approved, myoelectric prosthesis for below elbow amputee adults and children aged eight and above.
Designed with customisation and comfort as priorities, the Hero Arm is lightweight and robust while also being breathable and adjustable. Embedded with special sensors, it intuitively detects muscle movement so that it can move and coordinate with life-like precision.
Developed by a rapidly growing team in Bristol, the award-winning technology is now available through prosthetic clinics in the UK and Europe with expansion into the US market planned soon. COO and co-founder, Samantha Payne leads Open Bionic’s product design, branding, communications, culture, HR and customer service. Samantha will use training and coaching through the SME Leaders Programme to strengthen leadership and management skills as the start-up scales internationally. Mentoring and coaching support will also help Samantha to further develop her design-thinking and gain a deeper understanding of the company’s commercial offering as it expands into new markets and develops new products.
Visit the Open Bionics website here.
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.
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.