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.
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.
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 Chem 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 Chem 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 Chem 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 here.
Additive manufacturing (AM) has opened up new ways to make smart industrial products. However, the aeronautic and automotive industries often produce parts using design software that pre-dates 3D printing. New design software was required that would be flexible enough to keep up with ongoing advances in AM.
Dr Francesco Montomoli, a Reader in Computational Aerodynamics at Imperial College London, worked on the idea for new design software for AM with PhD students Audrey Gaymann and Marco Pietropaoli. After three years’ work they had made enough breakthroughs and generated sufficient interest to launch TOffeeAM Ltd to commercialise their code.
The company’s software uses innovative mathematical modeling to design and improve components used in aircraft and car engines. It is able to explore geometric complexities within systems and has already been used to develop new designs for heat exchangers, fuel nozzles and valves. The heat transfer capabilities of TOffeeAM allows the code to be robust and accurate for aerospace applications. The interactive capabilities of their system means that it can work up to 20 times faster than existing design tools. By making components more resilient, lighter and more robust it can make some products 40% more fuel efficient.
The company has already been used to make components for world-leading AM businesses like General Electric Aviation and Baker Hughes. TOffeeAM is now aiming to consolidate its place in aviation and automotive industries while seeing if other fields, such as oil and gas, will also exploit this new resource.
Dr Montomoli says: “The Enterprise Fellowship has given us a great opportunity to learn from experienced people in several fields, from marketing to IP. An added bonus is being able to engage with the other fellows, sharing common challenges and opportunities.
Accepted onto Imperial College London’s Techcelerate programme
2018 Co-founder Marco Pietropaoli made an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Prize Fellowship
2019 Co-founder Audrey Gaymann made an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Prize Fellowship
2019 AWS Programmable prize
2020 Entrepreneur First invest £80,000 to help launch the company
Visit their website: www.toffeeam.co.uk
For a lot of applications, biobased chemicals have enhanced functionality compared to chemically produced products. However, biochemicals produced by fermentation require large volume vessels to make them, owing to the slow conversion of raw materials with the microorganisms used. This makes them much more expensive to produce and so they tend to only be used for niche applications.
Dr Ben Dolman, Co-Founder and CEO of Holiferm, has helped develop gravity-based separation technology that dramatically reduces the cost of production of lipid bioproducts, particularly biosurfactants. Most surfactants used in the cosmetic industry are irritants, and many in the agricultural market are toxic endocrine disruptors, with bans coming into place for some of these surfactants.
Dr Dolman says: “By using gravity, Holiferm’s new technology requires less energy and no solvents. The new process allows us to recover insoluble lipids from the production vessel as they are produced, alongside major improvements in the fermentation process. This has enabled us to reduce the vessel volume fourfold, reducing production costs by more than 50%.”
Holiferm recently agreed its first technology license with a leading surfactant company. The company is now raising investment to build its first commercial plant producing over 1,000 tonnes of biosurfactant a year.
Dr Dolman says: “The financial contribution from the Enterprise Fellowship has enabled us to accelerate Holiferm’s growth and provided the financial security required for raising our first venture capital investment round. The business support has also helped to solidify our commercialisation plans, moving towards the construction of the commercial production facility we are currently fundraising for.”
2018 – Dr Dolman and Dr James Winterburn awarded £10,000 for winning the ‘Early Career’ category of the BBSRC’s Innovator of the Year awards
2018 – Technology demonstrated at pilot scale at three commercial collaborator sites
2018 – First commercial license of Holiferm technology
2019– £200,000 follow-on funding from Innovate UK
2019 – ICOS Capital confirm investment in Holiferm
2020 – Multiple joint application development projects with financial contributions from major surfactant producers and formulators
In the future, every vehicle manufactured will have some degree of autonomy and they will all need to ‘see’ the world around them. The leading solution for machine vision is light detection and ranging (LiDAR), which uses laser pulses to build a 3D model of the environment around the vehicle. However, lasers travel in a straight line and need rotating mirrors to guide them in the right direction. The moving parts for these systems make them bulky and expensive.
Dr Richard Taylor is the founder of the University of Glasgow spin out Vector Photonics. He has invented photonic crystal lasers that push the boundary of what is possible with semiconductor lasers. He has developed a laser that can be electronically steered in two dimensions. Instead of doing the steering with conventional moving parts, it can do it electronically. This removes the need for the LiDAR set up to have mirrors, reducing both system size and cost.
Vector Photonics has had two patents granted and has demonstrated that it can make lasers in a laboratory. The company has also made lasers in a commercial foundry to show that they can also be created in an industrial setting, not just a university laboratory.
Dr Taylor says: “We now have to focus on making them for customer specification. We have another 18 months of development work before we can start selling them at scale. We’re now looking to raise investment for that phase of things.”
He continues: “The Enterprise Fellowship was important for me as it provided useful business training while giving me the time to work on developing the company’s business case.”
He joined the Scale Up Accelerator programme in 2021 and says: “the cohort nature of the accelerator will create a great source of combined and additional business knowledge. It will allow me to develop the leadership and management skills required for a rapidly growing company like ours.”
In the coming year, Vector Photonics aims to progress its technology from proof of concept to the commercial market. The company recently benefited from £2 million of Innovate UK grants. It will use this to grow its team and commercialise its PCSELs into high-growth markets like 3D printing, data communications and LiDAR.
2014 Dr Taylor gains the Institution of Engineering and Technology
postgraduate scholarship award for his work with lasers
2018 Kickstart business competition finalist
2018 Secured funding from ICURe
2019 £70,000 of funding from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and £30,000 from a Glasgow company to support that award
2020 RBS six-month accelerator programme providing training, mentorship and office space
Visit their website: www.vectorphotonics.co.uk
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.