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.
Jonathan Quinn became an SME Leader in 2019 as Head of Software and Games at Reach Robotics, a company he helped build from the ground up. He developed its consumer gaming and educational robot, MekaMon. In late 2019, he joined Dovetail Games as Technical Director, taking on responsibility for several teams and all engineering at the studio.
Dovetail Games is aiming to become one of the world’s foremost gaming simulation companies. It has 160 people working on developing and publishing digital hobbies that recreate real-world scenarios for enthusiasts. It sells train, flight and fishing simulators for players on PC and console, built on the Unreal Engine.
Jonathan says that the SME Leaders programme assisted his transition between jobs. “The course has hugely improved my skills as a leader. Mentoring has provided critical advice and support through changing companies and goals. The coaching has helped me identify and overcome weaknesses, both as a leader and as an individual.”
Jonathan is now focused on growing Dovetail Games franchises. The company is working on e-sports, large-scale multiplayer games and cutting-edge realism. His teams are adopting artificial intelligence and procedural generation that he hopes “will level the playing field with larger video games studios.”
Metis Labs helps manufacturers improve the efficiency of their production processes. By monitoring the equipment and product data while learning the complex relationships, the software and artificial intelligence systems integrate with automated, high frequency equipment to reduce scrap and improve equipment efficiency.
Alex Appelbe is a mechanical engineer who spent 10 years in the manufacturing sector before setting up Metis Labs in 2017. Alex is the CEO and has overall responsibility for the business. He is passionate about improving manufacturing efficiency. He became an SME Leader in 2019 and credits the programme with “providing access to training courses that have massively improved my negotiating and product management abilities. Through the programme I also connected with an excellent, valuable mentor who has helped me with product vision and opened up several business development opportunities for us.”
Over the last few years, Metis Labs’ software has been extensively developed with the cooperation of several multinational manufacturers. In some cases, the company’s technology has achieved a 90% reduction in packaging losses. Now, Metis Labs is looking for partners to support the commercialisation and exploitation of its technology.
Fusion, the process that powers the stars, has the potential to meet energy demands and change the way the world generates power. For decades, research has sought to produce fusion energy on Earth by heating hydrogen fuel to temperatures well over 100 million degrees Celsius, where it becomes a plasma. One of the most developed ways of controlling the plasma is the tokamak, which creates a magnetic bottle to confine the hot fuel.
Tokamak Energy Ltd is a UK business aiming to accelerate the development of commercial fusion power by combining two emerging technologies: spherical tokamaks and magnets made from high temperature superconductors. The company has created a compact spherical tokamak called the ST40, which has already achieved plasma temperatures of over 15 million° C – hotter than the core of the Sun. The company is also developing powerful magnets made from high-temperature superconductors.
Steven McNamara is the Physics Programme Manager at Tokamak Energy and is responsible for the company’s scientific development initiatives. He became an SME Leader in 2019 and credits the programme “with improving my strategic business management and leadership skills. The training, mentoring and networking has enabled me to grow my team, build up the technical development programme and establish new collaborations and partnerships.”
In the last couple of years, Tokamak Energy has significantly increased its staff numbers to 150 and raised over £110 million in additional funding. The company is now designing a demonstration plant that will prove the viability of its approach and show the feasibility of fusion power as a plentiful, safe and cost effective energy source.
The next generation of chemotherapies will target cancer cells more effectively than many current chemotherapies, which can cause unwanted side effects by attacking both normal and cancer cells.
Femtogenix is an established drug discovery startup specialising in the development of payloads - one of three key components in a group of targeted chemotherapies known as antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).
Payloads are molecules that are toxic to living cells and kill cancer cells. When combined with antibodies to target cancer cells, and a linker to bring all these molecules together, it creates a highly effective, targeted cancer treatment that is less likely to cause side effects.
Femtogenix’s discovery platform uses computational chemistry and state-of-the-art synthetic chemistry methodologies to both design and synthesise payload molecules that can bind to DNA and effectively kill cancer cells at low concentrations.
Paul Jackson co-founded the company and helps lead its scientific and commercial strategy as it refines its core technology. With support from the SME Leaders Programme, Paul aims to learn from a network of entrepreneurs and strengthen his leadership skills as the company expands and establishes its technology to support the development of ADCs in this rapidly growing field.
Cambridge Mechatronics Limited (CML) licenses its proprietary form of smart metal technology, called shape memory alloy (SMA), to electronics manufacturers. CML uses this material to design and develop miniature motors, also known as actuators, across a range of products.
The company’s actuators, moved by wires thinner than human hair, are particularly suited to applications that require high levels of precision and force. Some of its most significant sales are for use in smartphones where they are incorporated into cameras enabling autofocus and image-stabilisation functions.
James Howarth, as Engineering Director at CML, is in charge of a team of 40. He is responsible for delivering the company’s two leading products: integrated image stabilisation and autofocus, as well as independent image stabilisation. James became an SME Leader in 2019 and credits the programme with refining his communications skills. He says it has given him confidence to take a key role in commercial discussions as well as helping in his strategic thinking.
CML has established relationships with major corporations across international supply chains. The company's licensees have shipped millions of SMA-based camera actuators into smartphones, wearables and drones. CML is now developing technology for further applications in haptics, facial recognition and augmented reality.
Jelly Drops are 95% water sweets, designed to help people with dementia stay hydrated. Initially developed by Lewis for his Grandma Pat, Jelly Drops turn something that can often be a difficult task into the highlight of the day.
Many people with dementia no longer feel thirst, don’t equate drinking with quenching thirst, or don’t recognise cups or have the dexterity to pick them up. To understand this better, Lewis lived in his grandma’s care home for a month. He realised that while many residents struggled to hydrate themselves independently, they all loved sweets.
Dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK, currently effecting more than 850,000 people. This is expected to reach over 1.5 million by 2040. Jelly Drops are bright, easy to pick up, vegan, sugar-free (with no laxative effect) sweets, that contain natural colours and flavours, and are shelf-stable. They enable people with dementia to hydrate themselves independently and with dignity.
The company has just launched and its main focus is to reach people with dementia that are suffering from dehydration. Jelly Drops will do this through care homes, but also via an online shop to serve people out in the community. Once established in the UK, Jelly Drops plans to ship the products abroad, and already has a waiting list of 35,000 in the US.
Jelly Drops hopes to diversify its product range to help a wider audience with hydration and other critical dietary requirements.
Jelly Drops was the first company accepted onto the Alzheimer’s Society Innovation Accelerator Programme and the project recently won the Outstanding Dementia Care Innovation Award at the Dementia Care Awards. Other awards include Pitch@Palace Global - Winner, European Investment Bank - Social Innovation Prize, EIT Food – UK Winner, EIT Health - Future of Health Award, Innovation Forum - IMAGINE IF! Global winner, Pitch@Palace 11.0 - Audience Vote and People’s Choice Award, Huawei - New Working Order Bursary and the Meaning-Centred Design - Student Healthcare Winner .
The Enterprise fellowship has provided us with invaluable support in helping us scale the business and create robust and sustainable systems for growth.
Autonomous vehicles promise to revolutionise mobility by reducing road accidents, removing mobility barriers for older and disabled people, and reducing traffic congestion. However, safely navigating autonomous vehicles is challenging. To date, approximately $1 billion has been invested but no imaging system has been able to accurately meet all key performance requirements.
LIDAR is an advanced vision technique used to navigate autonomous vehicles. An infrared detector enables the LIDAR system to see. Phlux has created a breakthrough detector technology that will drastically increase the measurement range of LIDAR systems enabling autonomous cars to see further, lowering rates of misdetection, and improving data quality and confidence. These all translate to safer navigation.
Over the next 12 months, Phlux will develop prototype detectors and demonstrate them in commercial LIDAR systems to validate its value proposition. In the next year, Ben is looking forward to establishing commercial partnerships and refining his business model.
The infrared sensors market is expected to experience rapid growth over the next few years, driven by the demand for LIDAR-based advanced driver assisted systems. The automotive infrared sensor market alone is predicted to reach £150 million by 2026, with 46% compound annual growth rate.
Phlux has been supported by the North by Northwest ICURe team, Innovate UK, Research England and the University of Sheffield.
“Being from a technical background I recognise that I need to develop new business skills if I am to fulfil my ambitions for Phlux. The Enterprise Fellowship is an incredible opportunity for me to develop the skills, network and confidence I need to become a successful entrepreneur.”
There is a need to manufacture new materials to produce lighter planes, cars and vehicles.
iCOMAT is a University of Bristol spinout that has developed a patented process for making advanced carbon fibre composites. These are lighter, stronger and more cost-effective than the current state-of-the-art processes used in the aerospace, automotive and marine sectors.
The sum of annual fuel bills for airlines globally can exceed $200 billion . iCOMAT’s technology can drastically reduce the weight of aerospace components (a 10% to 38% improvement over existing composite parts) and lead to significant economic and environmental benefits.
The next key milestone is to demonstrate the benefits of this technology through pilot projects the company has already secured. This will help develop and finalise our manufacturing technique, utilising unidirectional tapes laid upon part moulds prior to loading known as tape laying.
So far, iCOMAT has secured two grant-funded projects, which are currently underway with Innovate UK as well as privately funded development contracts with leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
“I look forward to the Enterprise Fellowship and the support that is provided by the Royal Academy of Engineering. The network of the Academy and the expert mentorship will be invaluable in scaling up iCOMAT and its offering.”
The value of lost productivity due to knee osteoarthritis is estimated to be $100 billion annually in the US alone. Efforts need to be made to improve recovery from osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal injury.
Zappt coordinates targeted neuromuscular activation with the patient’s movements to enable joint offloading in osteoarthritis and dynamic bracing in musculoskeletal injury. Joint offloading involves shifting pressure within the joint away from a region of damage towards a healthier portion whereas dynamic bracing involves selectively applied support in situationally specific load cases.
It plans to carry out user trials with the Royal Dutch Football Association, the KNVB, in the Netherlands. This will be the first major field trial of its novel prototype. Zappt hopes to use the insights gained to hone the product and make sure it performs as partners require.
“[The Enterprise Hub has helped us] by providing access to a network of invaluable support, and by forcing us to refine our ideas about the product and our business model.”
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.
John is a highly experienced executive and senior consultant across the oil and gas, renewable energy and digital technology sectors, as well as a member of many international boards. He has significant interest in the commercial and technology challenges that energy transition presents, especially as these intersect with corporations’ digital transformation.
John is currently Chair of the Gresham House Energy Storage Fund Board, which specialises in the commercialisation of grid-level storage investments. The company is now the largest energy storage fund in the UK and is the market leader. In November 2018, the company listed on LSE at £100 million and at the end of 2020 had a market cap of around £250 million; it is on a strong growth trajectory and should double in size over the next 24 months.
Until April 2019, John was an advisor to the Board of ACWA Power International (Riyadh), the largest independent power producer in Saudi Arabia. Until December 2017, he was on the Board of the ASX-listed Carnegie Clean Energy, based in Perth, WA. He is also an investor and Board member of Global Integrity, a cybersecurity software and cyber consultancy firm based in Washington DC.
John spent more than 25 years working at BP, the last 10 of which were spent at the corporate executive level in various roles including:
In his early career, John worked on the design and construction of nuclear power generation plants in UK.
Since leaving BP, John has been active as a senior advisor to blue chip global consultants specialising in the energy sector, energy transition and corporate digital transformation.
John serves on the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Committee.
Professor 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.