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.
Lightpoint Medical develops molecular imaging and sensing technologies to help surgeons detect cancer in real time during surgery. In spite of the technological advances in robotic surgery, surgeons still depend on their eyesight to detect cancer intra-operatively. As a result, surgeons sometimes leave cancer behind or remove more healthy tissue than needed.
The company’s award-winning SENSEI® technology, a miniaturised intra-operative cancer detection probe, gives surgeons a chance to fully remove cancer in one procedure, while retaining healthy tissue. It can be used across many major cancer types including stomach, colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancer.
Dr Kunal Vyas is the Head of Research at Lightpoint Medical, responsible for evaluating new technologies, overseeing research projects and developing the company’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio. Kunal joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021. He says “I hope that the programme’s strategic innovation management initiative will maximise my performance as we commercialise and scale-up. I will also benefit from access to workshops and speaker events on topics such as IP management and pitching.”
In 2021, SENSEI® received CE mark, enabling it to be sold in the European Economic Area. Lightpoint Medical has begun multi-centre clinical trials with the probe. The company will now transition from being an R&D-focused organisation into a commercial enterprise.
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.”
nuron Limited has developed a dual-purpose fibre-optic monitoring system that enables wastewater network operators to have a minute-by-minute insight into what is happening inside their sewers. It also enables fibre networks to be deployed faster and with less disruption. The company’s patented technology is continuously installed within sewer pipes, creating a nervous system for sewers. In real-time, it measures the flow, depth, temperature and structural integrity of the sewer network, allowing proactive and data-driven decision-making.
Claire Fenwick is the Managing Director of nuron, and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business. As part of the SME Leaders Programme, Claire chose a leadership course that benefitted her whole management team.
The company’s growth has been swift, with staff numbers increasing from three to 16 in the two years since Claire joined the scheme. In that time, nuron has started to transition from a purely development company to a revenue-generating business. It has deployed its first installation in a live sewer where the data and insight proved beyond expectation. It has raised £3 million through raising equity and innovation loans and grants and is now focused on ramp-up for its first scale deployment. Claire thinks that the company’s technology will allow water companies to be both proactive and predictive in their wastewater operations.
“Doing the course together helped us bond as a management team. We became more self-aware and jointly developed a clear vision, mission and values before we started to grow. This enabled us to become a cohesive and effective management team with an excellent company culture and high employee retention.”
Collagen materials are critical for tissue engineering innovations,
medical devices and research. However, the supply of collagen presents several
issues including quantity and cost – it is usually produced in low volume and
has a high average price of over £2,000 a gram. Quality can also be a problem
with its solubility, clarity and purity often inconsistent. Because it is
usually obtained from animals it is also susceptible to associated disease
Dr Jonathan Widdowson’s PhD work in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine led him to him to question how the body generates materials and then develop biomaterials to recreate those elements in the lab. In 2018, he co-founded ProColl with Dr Chris Wright, a medical biomaterials company with a mission to empower research and medical device development.
The Swansea University spin-out has since developed and commercialised new technologies and produces affordable, research grade, soluble collagen – both animal and non-animal based. ProColl manufactures three different types of collagen. Its acid-soluble collagens are highly consistent, with inter- and intra-batch consistency of over 99%. These are produced in large batches, which makes the materials cost-effective and affordable for research that includes making artificial skin and organs.
ProColl also produces a single-chain collagen, which is highly soluble in aqueous conditions and has many applications in regenerative medicine. In addition, the company is bringing to market a vegan recombinant human procollagen, produced in yeast that displays high consistency, reliability, and in vivo biocompatibility.
In 2018, the collagen market was valued at $4.27 billion with an addressable market for ProColl of over £1 billion, covering areas such as healthcare, cosmetics, research and nutraceuticals.
ProColl is currently building a distribution supply network and aims to have agreements worth over £1 million in 2020. It is also working with researchers and nutraceutical manufacturers to bring game-changing innovations and products to market.
Two significant reasons have accounted for the rapid commercial success of ProColl: the support of Swansea University’s AgorIP, which helped grow the enterprise from a research idea to a commercially viable spinout; and the Enterprise Fellowship, which has helped the company gain crucial funders and support. The funding has also allowed ProColl to grow and connect with new customers and gain traction in areas it was previously unable to access.
2018 ProColl founded
2019 ICURe funding secured
2019 Dr Jonathan Widdowson was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2020 Signed nutraceutical supply agreement with Trinsic Collagen Ltd
Visit their website: www.procoll.co.uk
Grakn Labs has invented a new database called Grakn: a logical database to organise large and complex networks of data as one body of knowledge – commonly known as knowledge graphs. It is the world’s first database that enables engineers to tackle a higher order of complexity in knowledge engineering.
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 and robotics.
Haikal Pribadi is the Founder and CEO of Grakn Labs. Haikal has drawn on expertise in robotics, optimisation theory, and intelligent systems to build a new logical database that serves as the knowledge-based foundation of cognitive and intelligent systems.
Haikal, a computer scientist, is the designer and lead engineer of the technology system built at Grakn Labs. He joined the SME Leaders programme in 2018 and is focusing on scaling the company’s technology to cloud distribution.
The pioneering community developed with Grakn has grown to thousands of engineers around the world. The community is spread across a dozen countries with a mission to solve the world’s most complex problems through knowledge engineering.
The financial markets are complex and, for many in the industry, a significant challenge lies in working with large-scale, highly dynamic data sets in rapidly evolving contexts. BMLL Technologies (BMLL) offer a range of solutions to make this easier. Rather than trudge through the complexities of different data structures, different trading rules, dirty or missing data and the technical challenges of working with big data and its constantly changing tools, BMLL’s technology enables companies to focus on what is important – generating insights from data.
Hugh directs research that supports BMLL in developing solutions that are used by customers ranging from tier 1 US investment banks to hedge funds and trillion-dollar investment managers. For researchers and data scientists at these companies BMLL’s platform brings clarity and ease to data management and analysis. This enables them to lever their statistical skills and add value by quickly and efficiently investigating the problems their organisation faces.
The SME Leader’s Programme will help Hugh to develop leadership and management skills to assist the research team in making strategic advances as BMLL expands, through the design and provision of API exposed algorithms for customers in diverse fields from transaction cost analysis to market surveillance.
Sensor Coating Systems(SCS) has developed a thermal mapping method using temperature memory materials. Its luminescent paints and coatings generate an afterglow on materials when light is shone on them. After calibration, an operator can work out a material’s temperature-history (how hot it became in the past) from the afterglow. When applied on engine components as a paint or a coating, it provides engine designers with thousands of digitised temperature points that can assist in the development of more efficient and cleaner engines, with less CO2 emissions.
SCS has patented the technology and created an intellectual property portfolio covering specialised instrumentation, automation and digitisation know-how. The high-resolution temperature data generated from SCS systems can shorten months of engine development time into just a few weeks.
Dr Jörg Feist is co-founder, co-inventor and Managing Director of SCS. Jörg joined the SME Leaders Programme in 2021. He says “the programme will help to address the company’s growth risks as SCS plans to double in size in the next two years, both in terms of revenue and headcount. The mentoring scheme will provide an external view on the business and the scholarship programme will enable me to attend courses at leading business schools to customise our growth journey.”
The ability of SCS’s award-winning technology to provide thousands of measurement points on a single component is ground-breaking. Its potential market is wide-ranging, as the technology can be used for gas turbines, aviation, automotive, fuel cells or high-value manufacturing.
Batch reactors are used to manufacture a variety of products in the fine chemicals industry: vitamins, pharmaceuticals, polymers, dyes, fragrances and agrochemicals. A lot of the batch reactors operational time is spent in reactor cleaning, recharging and discharging; operations that produce no product but incur labour costs.
Dr Nikolay Cherkasov founded Stoli Catalysts as a spin out company from the University of Warwick to develop catalyst-coated tubes for use in continuous flow reactors. The patented technology could convert hydrogenation reactions, which make up 10% to 20% of reactions in the fine chemicals industry, from batch to continuous flow chemistry, substantially cutting production costs.
When compared with other common continuous flow reactors, such as fixed bed and flow slurry, Stoli’s catalyst-coated tube reactors offer high-mass, better heat transfer rates and tighter control of reaction parameters. The company can develop bespoke catalysts for gas-liquid and gas-phase reactions. In addition, the company’s reactor designs use 100 to 1,000 times less precious metals.
There has already been commercial interest with international customers commissioning development projects. Besides cutting production costs, Stoli’s technology is more sustainable, using less energy and generating less waste than existing methods.
The company has received significant funding from Innovate UK and the European Innovation Council. Stoli Catalysts is now developing and demonstrating 100 kilograms-a-day production of fine chemicals and looking to scale-up the company’s manufacturing facilities.
Dr Cherkasov says: “For us, the Enterprise Fellowship was the key step in focusing the business on customer value generation while helping provide essential training for staff.”
Research Council Proof of Concept grant to demonstrate the concept of
2016 Stoli Catalysts founded and Innovate UK £500,000 grant secured
2018 European Innovation Council €1.2 million grant secured to build a pilot prototype
2019 Dr Nikolay Cherkasov was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
Visit their website: www.stolicatalysts.com
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.
Dr Robert Sansom FREng is an experienced angel investor and mentor to technology-based startup businesses in the UK and US.
He is the founder of the Cambridge Angels, a group of expert technology and biotechnology entrepreneurs who invest in and mentor technology startups across the UK.
Robert serves on the board of several startups including Arachnys Information Services, Cambridge Communication Systems, CRFS, Featurespace, IQGeo plc, Myrtle Software, and Netronome Systems. Prior to becoming an angel investor, he co-founded FORE Systems, a leader in high-speed data communications, where he was Chief Technical Officer. Fore Systems went public on NASDAQ in 1994 and was sold to Marconi plc in 1999.
Robert was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2010.
“Through my career I’ve built up considerable experience taking knowledge-based technology business from initial idea through to becoming successful businesses. I’d like to help a new generation of technology entrepreneurs do the same, and the Enterprise Hub is an excellent platform for me to do this.”
Steve is a leading expert with over 35 years of experience.in the fields of semiconductor device research, nanotechnology and millimetre-wave integrated circuit design.
After founding and leading the Nanoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, he co-founded and became Technical Director of Intellemetrics Ltd. His enterprising spirit continued with the foundation of Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd in 2001.
Steve became Vice-Principal for Research and Enterprise at the University of Glasgow in 2005 where e is responsible for the University’s research strategy and policies. These includes key relations with research sponsors and strategic partners. He also heads up the University’s enterprise activities which has a strong focus on research links with industry and the promotion of spinout companies.
Steve was awarded an OBE for services to the field of nanotechnology in the 2002 Jubilee Honours List and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2007.
“Encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship in technology and engineering requires a genuine link up and sharing of knowledge between research partners and industry. The Enterprise Hub is a key part of this, sharing enterprising expertise with individuals who have an incredible amount of technical talent, and providing the links to springboard their success in the industry.”
Paul Excell is an award-winning entrepreneur, investor and global executive leader with an impressive track record of delivering growth and transformation in startups, scale-ups, global corporates and is passionate about social mobility. He is Chief Operating Officer and Non-Executive Director at ScaleUp Group™️, providing tech scaleups with unique insights from successful entrepreneurs with over $4 billion in exits plus patient equity/debt growth funding (£2 million to £20 million). He has six tech clients in the growth portfolio, and his clients have raised £30 million to date.
In addition to this, Paul is Co-Founder and Chair of Global iLabs, Founder and CEO of Excelerate™️ and Non-Executive Director with Knowledge Gateway (University of Essex). He acts as a judge and mentor for the UK Enterprise Awards and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Launchpad Innovation Award and SME Leaders.
Paul was previously Chief Customer Innovation Officer, Chief Operating Officer/Group Technology Officer, SVP[PS1] Global at BT, Chair/member of several business Boards (UK and Spain, Nordics, AsiaPac) and sat on BT Group Board committees on Technology, Risk and Diversity. He was an Engineering Council Board member and acted as advisor to UN Secretary General on sustainability, technology and innovation.
He started his career as an apprentice and is now a chartered engineer (CEng), Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET), the Chartered Institute for IT (FBCS) and Court Liveryman, Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.
Suranga has long experience as an engineer and entrepreneur. He founded Blinkx - an intelligent search engine for video and audio content - in 2004. He led Blinkx as CEO for eight years as well as taking it public in 2007. He is widely regarded as an expert on the convergence of the web, television and online advertising.
Before his work with Blinkx, Suranga was US Chief Technology Officer of Autonomy where he was mentored by Mike Lynch and led the effort to enable Autonomy’s software to work in highly distributed environments. Suranga joined Balderton as a General Partner in 2014.
An accomplished speaker and commentator on the overlap between technology and media, Suranga has been elected by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders. He was also included in the Top 10 leaders in Science and Innovation by The Observer’s Future 500 list, and was a recipient of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Silver Medal in 2012. Suranga was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2012.
“The real high-growth value companies are currently all in the tech space. In order for these businesses to reach their potential, it’s vital that they can benefit from the guidance of those with experience.”
Anne is a prominent venture capitalist and European technology investor who has been Chief Executive of Amadeus Capital Partners from 1997. As a co-founder in the organisation, Anne’s role combines her experience as a scientist, operating manager and venture capitalist.
Anne began her career in manufacturing with Cummins Engine Company before moving into investment as a business angel. She was also Chief Operating Officer of Virtuality Group, which had been one of her investee companies.
Anne has held a number of high profile advisory positions, having served as Chairman of the British Venture Capital Association in 2004, and as a non-executive director of the UK Technology Strategy Board from 2005-2012. In 2008 Anne led the establishment of the Glover advisory committee for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, reporting on government procurement from SMEs. She is also a member of the European Research and Innovation Advisory Board. Anne was awarded a CBE for services to business in 2006 and was elected an Honourary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2008.
“There is a long-standing need for science to engage more proactively with policy-makers and business. The Enterprise Hub is playing a big part in addressing this, by bridging the gap between outstanding academic talent and influential figures in the industry to ensure the UK’s ongoing international success in science and technology.”
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 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.”
Professor Neville Jackson FREng has spent nearly 40 years in industrial R&D, primarily in transport and energy systems. He has experience in managing complex R&D portfolios and spinning out new technologies into commercially funded startups.
He currently chairs both the RAC Foundation and the Institute of Digital Engineering Advisory Board and is also a non-executive director of the UK Advanced Propulsion Centre. He also chairs the Royal Academy of Engineering’s steering group for the Increasing engineering business R&D investment project. He has been a member of the UK Automotive Council since it was formed and is a member of the Strategy Team, chairing the R&D/Horizon Scanning working group.
From 2009 until 2019 he was Chief Technology and Innovation Officer for Ricardo plc. He has co-ordinated and authored a wide range of technology roadmaps at national and European level, defining the potential, and technology pathways for transport energy, propulsion systems, future vehicle electrical/electronic architectures and digitalisation/virtual product development.
A graduate of Imperial College London, he is also a visiting professor at the University of Brighton. His past roles have included Chairman of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, a six-year term as a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network, Vice Chair of the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC) and a member of the Industry Delegation for the European Green Vehicles Initiative (EGVI). He is also a Fellow of the US SAE and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2011.
Saeed is Technical Director at the prosthetic manufacturer Blatchford, winners of the 2016 RAEng MacRobert Award.
He has built a highly successful career based on outstanding innovation, product development and scientific research in the field of prosthetics. His work saw the company shortlisted for the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award in 2010.
Saeed has provided invaluable advice to emerging innovators in his field, such as negotiating with investors, creating new business cases and establishing alternative investment return strategies, IP issues, and how to identify new needs and opportunities in the market to develop a road map of future products.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2012.