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.
CEO, Oxford nanoSystems
From air-conditioning units to big data computing, heat-transfer components play a fundamental role in a range of technologies. Oxford nanoSystems is revolutionising the manufacture of these components with a novel coating technology that substantially improves materials’ heat transfer capabilities. This enables the development of lighter products at a reduced cost.
The coating facilitates the production of heat-transfer components that are more efficient and consume less energy thereby improving their environmental sustainability. The flexible coating can be customised and incorporated into existing manufacturing processes, or applied to components after manufacturing.
Before completing his PhD, Alexander Reip was invited to bring his expertise in nanomaterials to Oxford nanoSystems. The company at that point was a new startup and he played a principal role in developing its groundbreaking coating.
Dr Reip is now CEO of the company and leads a team that is dedicated to implementing its product more widely. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme since 2017, Alexander has grown the team from three to 17 staff.
Training in management and leadership has helped Dr Reip to strengthen his entrepreneurial skills and develop a strategy for growth. Oxford nanoSystems has now raised over £2 million in equity funding and over £1.5 million in grant funding. It is now preparing to install its first production plant with a view to accessing new markets that will benefit from improved cooling systems, including the large and growing electronics sector.
GreenSpur Wind has developed a generator that could further reduce the cost of wind energy, making this renewable energy source more cost effective, efficient and sustainable. Many existing machines use scarce and expensive rare earth magnets, which are sourced almost exclusively from China. In contrast, GreenSpur’s patented design makes use of ferrite – an abundant, cheaper alternative type of magnet, which will accelerate deployment. Its low-cost generator can concentrate flux and maximise energy generation, making it the first company to develop a credible option using ferrite magnets for large-scale turbines.
Andrew Hine joined the SME Leaders programme in 2017 when Innovate UK had awarded the company a £1.25 million grant to build a single stage 250kW generator, part of a four-stage 1MW design. This was completed in 2019. A feasibility study is now being undertaken, which will demonstrate how the modular GreenSpur design is capable of being scaled to deliver 15MW-plus configurations.
Now, GreenSpur Wind is working on grant applications and funding that could release millions for further product development. Further investment would allow the company to form an R&D design and development team. The company is also looking for a co-development partner to bring its technology and multi-MW generators to the global wind turbine market.
“The programme has enabled us to transition the business towards an applied engineering strategy. I found the mentoring, both formal and informal, a great support during this transition phase. The networking opportunities provided by the Enterprise Hub were also useful and enabled me to obtain a level of engineering support and advice that had previously been very difficult to access.”
A desire to help create sustainable and resilient cities led Arthur Kay to develop bio-bean, the first company to industrialise the recycling process for spent coffee grounds and transform them into advanced biofuels and biochemicals.
With over 500,000 tonnes of spent coffee grounds going to waste in the UK every year, Arthur recognised them as a valuable, and abundant, resource. They are highly calorific and packed with the right compounds to be a source of sustainable energy.
The company slots neatly into pre-existing waste and energy processes, and works closely with waste-management companies to get spent coffee grounds to their large-scale recycling factory. As a result, the award-winning clean technology company already collects thousands of tonnes yearly from offices, transport hubs and coffee shops, including Costa Coffee.
The used coffee grounds are then transformed into sustainable, high-performance products, such as biomass pellets for heating buildings, and the company’s first consumer product ‘Coffee Logs’ for use at home in stoves and fires.
Rapid growth has enabled the company to build its capacity to recycle up to 50,000 tonnes of used coffee grounds each year, which has significantly reduced the amount that ends up in landfill. By engaging in extensive research, bio-bean now plans to expand its range of advanced carbon-neutral biofuels and biochemicals for commercial use.
Contemporary architectural design requires smarter, more flexible materials to help buildings meet their environmental targets. Flexible plastic displays could provide a sustainable option for optimising indoor environments but only if they can be easily manufactured for use in materials such as glass.
Dr Chris Williamson, founded the start-up Flexypix to unlock the potential of flexible plastic displays that can be integrated into glass. His technology can be used to create windows that quickly switch from transparent to opaque, providing privacy or reflecting unwanted heat while consuming no continuous power.
Made using a liquid crystal-based material, Flexypix displays can rapidly switch and adapt on demand, within seconds.
These ultra-thin, plastic panels can also be seamlessly retro-fitted to existing surfaces, or integrated within materials such as glass during manufacture.
As CEO, Chris Williamson brings extensive experience in engineering smart tools and material for construction. He leads Flexypix in developing continuous mass-production processes so that the company can target the global commercial indoor window market, which was valued at $30 billion in 2015.
Chris was awarded a 2017 Enterprise Fellowship to spin out his business, continue testing and upscale the manufacturing process.
Despite being the most abundant form of renewable energy, solar energy does not have as high an international adoption rate as it could have.
The solar panels currently used to capture the sun’s energy are inefficient, cannot be bent or fabricated into custom shapes and have complicated disposal options at the end of life. That means that today’s panels are unable to make use of irregular spaces where the sun shines, especially in urban areas.
Dr Leonard Ng Wei Tat is the founder of DaVinci Future Technologies Ltd. He is also the inventor of the underlying patented system that enables nano-plated dispersions that allow solar panels to be printed using conventional printing machines.
Dr Ng Wei Tat’s technology will permit solar cells to be manufactured using standard industrial roll-to-roll printing at low cost and in large volumes. Solar cells processed in this way are flexible and can take on bespoke shapes and forms. The resulting photovoltaics are also more easily disposable at end of life.
Dr Ng Wei Tat says: “Although the growth of photovoltaics has been accelerating through the years, the average penetration of solar energy per country is only 2.5%. Our technology hopes to improve on this number. By mid-2020 we will have identified the markets we can be involved with and make an impact.”
He had originally proposed to use his innovation for another renewable energy use and says: “The Enterprise Fellowship enabled me to explore the market for my initial idea and then allowed me to effect a pivot from that original business concept. This acceleration of learning has put into perspective what is important about building a deep tech business and enabled me to find a new market.”
pre-seed funding from Cambridge Enterprise
2019 Dr Leonard Ng Wei Tat was Awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2019 Patent awarded for innovation (WO2017013263A1)
2019 DaVinci Future Technologies Ltd registered with Companies House
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) is a debilitating lung disease that affects 1.2 million in the UK. Nearly two thirds of cases are thought to be undiagnosed and new methods are needed to improve both diagnostics and treatment.
InspiWave is a non-invasive monitoring device developed by medical innovator Dr Phi Anh Phan, along with Professor Andrew Farmery at the University of Oxford. With its ability to both monitor lung function and pulmonary blood flow, InspiWave has the potential to improve COPD diagnosis rates and allow for more efficient bedside monitoring throughout the treatment pathway.
InspiWave aims to improve patient’s comfort and experience by providing real-time bedside monitoring information in a non-invasive way. It can be used to support patients with a variety of lung conditions, such as intensive care patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
Real-time monitoring ensures that clinician have the information needed to deliver the right treatment at the right time. The technology also provides vital information to improve fluid management for patients undergoing high-risk surgeries.
Medical trials are underway to demonstrate InspiWave’s effectiveness in a range of treatment scenarios, and help with targeting this device for use within the NHS.
Phi was awarded a 2017 Enterprise Hub Fellowship to develop InspiWave, and launch his start-up, Intelligent RespiLabs.
All sports fans will ask the question: if you can’t be at the game, what is the next best thing? Rob Oldfield, Co-Founder of Salsa Sound, has developed a next-generation sound production tool that transforms what viewers hear and creates a more engaging viewing experience for live broadcast sport.
The Salsa Sound system exploits emerging developments in object-based audio to generate improvements in sound production. Initially developed for football, its intelligent tracking system allows each kick, header and blow of the referee’s whistle to be captured, wherever they happen on the pitch. By using algorithms for sound recognition, Salsa instantaneously brings a sharper focus to the sounds that matter. This gives viewers a more immersive and engaging sound experience, regardless of the device they are watching it on.
The advantages are not just for viewers. Salsa replaces broadcasters’ need for labour-intensive manual mixing, simplifying the process with algorithms for real-time sound location and mixing. It can also remove unwanted sounds, such as swearing or inappropriate crowd noises.
With no direct competitors, Salsa is well situated to bring its transformative techniques to the high-value sports broadcasting market, which continually invests in improving sports coverage. Working prototypes have already captured the interest of large broadcasting companies and there are plans to adapt it for other sports in the future.
Rob was awarded a 2017 Enterprise Fellowship to help develop his business plan and launch his startup company Salsa Sound.
“The Enterprise Hub has stewarded the growth of my startup, particularly helping me to develop my business strategy. It really understands the challenges for an academic starting a business.”
CEO and Co-Founder, Brill Power
Smarter battery design can lead to longer-lasting, more reliable performance. Brill Power has achieved this battery control and management technology that extends the life of multi-cell lithium-ion batteries by up to 60%.
Multiple cell lithium-ion batteries areused everyday on a broad scale, from the battery in your laptop to electric cars and grid-scale energy storage. In each case, energy-storage capacity is limited by the weakest cell in a battery pack. Brill Power’s solution improves performance by monitoring individual cells, identifying weak points and making adjustments to regulate the distribution of energy at every charge and discharge. This ensures each cell’s potential is fully achieved, extending battery-life in a safe and reliable way.
Christoph Birkl, CEO, helped develop the technology and now leads Brill Power in developing its commercial applications. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme since 2018, he has participated in training in finance, leadership and management to help the startup to scale. During this time his team has trebled in size to 12 staff, and Brill Power has received government grant funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge, the UK Energy Catalyst programme and Energy Entrepreneurs Fund.
Brill Power is now preparing to launch its first product, a battery management system for small-scale stationary energy storage. The company also plans to launch a pilot for commercial and industrial storage and it has established strategic partnerships to demonstrate the application of the technology in electric vehicles.
Medovate commercialises innovative medical technologies created within the NHS. As the fifth largest employer in the world, the NHS plays a significant role in creating medical innovations that address unmet clinical needs, potentially creating revenue and impact. Medovate provides technical, management and financial support to develop medical devices through clinical trials, regulatory approval and commercialisation.
The first product Medovate is launching is SAFIRA (safer injection for regional anaesthesia), which enables a single operator to conduct a regional block at a safer pressure, reducing the risk of nerve damage and improving patient safety.
Alan Finnerty is primarily responsible for R&D at Medovate. He also leads on quality assurance, clinical trials, regulatory approvals and manufacturing.
Medovate has a portfolio of medical technologies covering anaesthesia, critical care, airway and surgery. The company has recently taken on development of a technology that has been awarded £1.3 million by the NIHR with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The technology is called Endovac, an innovative negative pressure wound therapy device for the treatment of upper gastro-intestinal leaks. Early indications are that it will dramatically improve patient survival rates.
Alan says that the SME Leaders programme has been transformational: “I now feel truly comfortable in a leadership role. The training, mentoring and especially the networking opportunities, have helped me overcome strategic and operational challenges in my company.”
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.
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”.
Andy’s career in industry has involved co-founding over a dozen spin-outs and start-ups, three of which floated on stock markets. Virata floated on NASDAQ and at its peak had a market capitalisation of $5 billion.
His most prominent successes have come through RealVNC, which won the prestigious MacRobert Award in 2013, and Ubisense plc. Collectively, these two organisations have received five Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.
In academia, Andy heads the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory and is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall and Corpus Christi College. Elsewhere, he served as President of the IET between 2012 and 2013, and in 2007 received a CBE for services to the computer industry.
Andy is co-founder and Chairman of pioneering remote access software developers RealVNC and is also Professor of Computer Technology at the University of Cambridge. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1996.
“My own career experiences have demonstrated just how important it is that the bridges between academia and industry are present and robust, and also what can be achieved when the relationship works to its potential. The Enterprise Hub offers an invaluable opportunity for exceptional academics to work with experienced industry figures and bring truly exciting new technology businesses to fruition.”
Naeem Alvi is an award-winning brand strategist and the founder of Notepad. After years of helping fast-growth SMEs and big brands such as Nike, Adidas and RBS Natwest to better leverage their brand, Naeem founded Notepad to connect big brand experience with ambitious tech companies that want to define and scale up their brands effectively and affordably.
Recent achievements include:
John is Professor of Optoelectronic Systems and Dean of transnational Education at the University of Glasgow.
He moved to Glasgow in 1986, where he established an internationally leading research group addressing linear and nonlinear integrated optoelectronic systems. He developed new integration technologies for photonic integrated circuits based on quantum well devices and quantum well intermixing, which ultimately led to the formation of the spin-out company Intense Ltd in 2000.
Intense developed the world’s most advanced integrated laser systems, bringing monolithic laser arrays together with electronic ASICs and optics for precise energy delivery in a range of applications from printing to material processing. The monolithic laser arrays pushed reliability and manufacturing yields to new levels.
John has extensive experience of operating in both academic and high-technology industrial environments, and as a result has an excellent understanding of spinning out IP and creating commercial value from an academic base.
He has been involved with several start-up companies including Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd (1997-2000); Compound Semiconductor Technologies Ltd (1999-2000) and Intense Ltd (now Intense Inc) (2000-2009).
John was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2007; Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) in 2000; Fellow of IEEE (FIEEE) in 2000 ‘for contributions to development of integrated optics based on semiconductor quantum well devices’; and Fellow of the Optical Society (FOSA) in 2016 for ‘for contributions to quantum and photonics technologies and systems in III-V compound semiconductors’.
Alastair is Head of Analytics and Machine Learning at MDRxTECH, Mishcon de Reya's digital transformation consultancy.
Alastair is a UCL Computer Science PhD with a background in computer vision, analytics, machine learning, blockchain, strategy, and technology innovation. He is an experienced manager and entrepreneur who has built teams in both large and small organisations. He is regularly called upon to audit, evaluate and provide guidance to large scale technology programmes for MDRxTECH clients. An entrepreneurial and dynamic problem solver, Alastair co-founded Satalia, which builds and applies AI technology to solve efficiency problems for organisations such as Tesco and PwC. He also co-founded the venture backed WeArePopUp.com, and helped establish the IDEALondon innovation centre with Cisco Systems.
Alastair continues to maintain an active teaching role in the UCL School of Management (MSc Business Analytics) and Peking University, Beijing (MBA Technology Strategy). His research interests include technology strategy, blockchain, smart contracting and computational law.
Brewster Barclay has been selling, marketing and product managing for more than 40 years in a wide variety of high technology industries including printed circuit boards, both manufacturing processes and capital equipment, 3D circuit boards, online advertising, optical sensors, military chip packaging, radar tubes and software engineering services. Brewster has worked at Zuhlke Engineering, e2v technologies, Clicktream Technologies, Orbotech and PCK Technology Kollmorgen.
The experience of launching new products and almost six years running an internet advertising startup led to Brewster giving back in the form of mentoring early stage and growth startups. He identified a massive gap in business development, sales support and strategy that angels, accelerators and VCs give to startups. He has focused solely on sharing his experiences in business development sales, sales techniques and the practicalities of day to day sales and lead generation.
He has mentored at the Royal Academy of Engineering for the past seven years as well as for Accelerate Cambridge, Seraphim Space Capital and many other groups.
Vida is a behavioural change coach with over seven years’ experience helping people think differently and positively change lives. She helps people to build connection and balance in order to create a sustainable future for themselves, others and the world. Vida does this as a speaker, trainer and coach, focusing on wellbeing, self-care, belief change, and motivation.
Having worked in prisons and schools as well as the public sector with non-clinical NHS staff and private sector for companies such Telefónica and Wavin, she has a unique insight to share.
Professor Alison Noble is the Technikos Professor of Biomedical Engineering, in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford, and Associate Head of MPLS Division. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society (2017), the Royal Academy of Engineering (2008) and the President of the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Interventions (MICCAI) Society, the international society in biomedical image analysis.
Alison’s research interests are in computer analysis of clinical and biological images and the development and translation into clinical practice of novel methodologies that provide new diagnostic and therapeutic image based biomarkers and software tools for image-based quantification and decision-making. Her research group works in close collaboration with clinicians and industry players. She is also a Founder and the Chief Technology Officer of a university spin-out company that is commercialising research from her laboratory (Intelligent Ultrasound Ltd).
She returned to Oxford as a University Lecturer in 1995 to set up a biomedical image analysis group. Biomedical image analysis has since grown to be the largest biomedical engineering activity in Oxford.
Alison has played a leading role in setting up the biomedical engineering undergraduate and postgraduate biomedical engineering teaching and training (MSc and CDT) programmes at Oxford over the last decade. She is a member of both the Oxford University’s Research and Education Committees (from Oct 2013), and has served or currently serves on a number of committees of the Royal Academy of Engineering and other national organisations as well as numerous research funding agency panels.
Bill is a leading scientist worldwide in the field of Medical Materials. His major research contributions have been recognised by numerous international awards, medals and memberships.
He has been the Professor of Medical Materials at the University of Cambridge; served as Director of Cambridge Pfizer Institute for Pharmaceutical Materials Science; Cambridge Director of CMI Interdisciplinary Research Cluster in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering and Director of University of London Interdisciplinary Research Centre (IRC) in Biomedical Materials. He has been Head of Department, Dean, and Governor at Queen Mary University of London.
He has been the editor of the Journal of The Royal Society: Interface, the Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, the Journal of Materials Science, and of the Journal of Materials Science Letters.
Bill is Emeritus Professor of Medical Materials in the University of Cambridge. He is internationally recognised for his pioneering research contributions to biomaterials for medical devices, with awards including the Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Gold Medal; the Royal Society Armourers and Brasiers Company Medal; the Kelvin Medal; the European Society for Biomaterials George Winter Award; the Japanese Society for Biomaterials Medal; the Institute of Materials Griffiths Medal and Chapman Medal; the UK Society for Biomaterials President's Prize; the Acta Metallurgica H.H. Holloman Award and the International Union for Physical Sciences and Engineering in Medicine Award of Merit.
Professor Bonfield's exceptional interdisciplinary contribution has been recognised by his election to all three UK National Academies as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci).