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.
For decades, satellites have been getting smaller but the rockets that launch them haven’t. Most active vehicles are still designed for historically large satellites and this is forcing a new generation of SmallSats to rideshare on enormous rockets in an expensive system of compromise.
Of the small satellites forecast to be launched between 2021 and 2030, 70% are predicted to fall in the under 250-kilogram weight class. However, launch vehicles that can operate at this weight lack appropriate propulsion systems. There is a clear market demand for dedicated launch vehicles that can take small satellites exactly where and when they need to go, but the fundamental technical challenge is that rocket engines and their associated pumps and turbomachinery are incredibly difficult to scale down. Attempts to scale down existing technology commonly result in spiralling costs and complexities.
Protolaunch believes that the right engine is the key to unlocking a successful microlauncher, and aims to supply that propulsion. It is developing an engine based around a novel thermodynamic cycle designed specifically for small payloads from the outset. This is possible because of its core engine technology, which acts as the enabler for a new type of launch vehicle.
The Protolaunch engine has three key advantages:
“Over the next 12 to 18 months, we look forward to working with the Royal Academy of Engineering as we build our long-term commercial strategy and start to engage with larger aerospace partners and customers.”
Better intraoperative guidance can help reduce patient morbidity and healthcare costs across surgical specialties. For example, brain tumour patients undergoing surgery have significantly improved outcomes and increased life expectancy if complete tumour removal is achieved. However, optimal level of removal needs to be balanced with the goal of healthy tissue preservation to minimise risk to the patient. Even with the most advanced current techniques, these potentially life-changing intraoperative decisions are still based on a surgeon’s subjective visual assessment.
With strong expertise in interventional imaging, AI and medical devices, Hypervision Surgical has designed an intraoperative imaging system that integrates into the surgical workflow and is capable of wide-field, real-time, data-driven tissue characterisation. This enhances the surgeon's ability to visualise and characterise tissue without injecting any contrast agents. It also enables monitoring of vital physiological tissue properties, increasing surgical precision and patient safety while optimising resection.
As an early stage MedTech venture, there is a lot of work ahead to convert Hypervision Surgical’s innovation into a certified medical device that can be deployed safely for patient benefit, reducing cost to the healthcare system. Over 70,000 people are diagnosed with brain tumours in the UK each year. Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and young adults under 40, which costs the UK economy an estimated £580 million per year.
As a King’s College London spinout, Hypervision Surgical is embedded in the St Thomas’ MedTech Hub and has close ties with King’s Health Partner hospitals. It has scheduled clinical studies to further develop and evaluate the technology and is currently introducing a qualified quality management system (QMS) with the aim of developing a first product.
“It is still very early in my Enterprise Fellowship year, but I am already impressed by the training, mentorship and networking opportunities we have been provided. Moreover, the media presence and additional credibility of our technology and its potential due to the Enterprise Fellowship Award has helped in the development of new business relationships.”
There are approximately 50 pantograph (an apparatus mounted on the roof of an electric train to collect power through contact with an overhead line) related incidents in the UK each year. These cause cancellations of passenger services, damage infrastructure, reduce safety and reliability of electrified train operation and have huge financial implications (tens of millions of pounds per incident) for both train operating companies and infrastructure managers such as Network Rail.
A lack of real-time information about pantograph operation and being unable to regularly inspect the infrastructure to inform data-driven decisions currently costs Network Rail around £530 million per annum.
CitySense ltd has developed a new ‘smart-pantograph’ system: a multi-parameter, patented and field-evaluated optical fibre-based sensor system integrated with video information, to inform better data-driven maintenance solutions. This system allows users to create comprehensive inspection reports (required by the regulatory bodies) and reduce maintenance costs by providing real-time insight on the status of infrastructure and railway pantographs, preventing costly incidents while reducing maintenance and service outages.
Recent work with Network Rail on the Great Western Electrification programme illustrated this, and the smart pantograph now facilitates faster, more environmentally friendly passenger journeys between Bristol and Cardiff.
The company’s plan moving forward is to get detailed understanding of the challenges faced by the main stakeholders (within the UK and EU), to secure a pilot project and establish appropriate business models for two different market segments: train operating companies and infrastructure managers.
“In this very short period of time, the training provided by the Royal Academy of Engineering has been very important for my personal development as well as a great guidance on how to establish the company. In addition to that, having regular conversations with staff and my coach has been very helpful to get answers to a number of dilemmas.”
Modern surgical implants use ‘press-fit’ and are hammered into place by the surgeon, creating friction that holds the implant in place. If the surgeon impacts the implant too rigorously, the bone may be over-stressed and fracture.
Bone fracture during hip replacement surgery affects between 2% and 8% of patients. If fracture occurs the patient is seven times more likely to need expensive revision surgery and twice as likely to die from complications.
Additive Instruments’ technology is a ‘smart’ surgical tool that can sense the force being applied to the instrument and adjust it to reduce the chances of fracture. By reducing the variation in impaction force, the technology also reduces the learning curve for new surgeons – reducing the likelihood of fracture through inexperience.
In the UK and US, 400,000 hip replacement procedures are conducted every year. If a conservative estimate of 2% of these surgeries were to result in fracture, 8,000 patients would suffer a painful and debilitating injury each year, most requiring revision surgery at great expense. These surgeries are estimated to cost £25 million every year.
Additive Instruments’ technology has been proven in the laboratory, so its next key milestone is to validate the product in a clinical environment, first with specimens and subsequently with live patients. Once the efficacy of the product has been proven, Additive Instruments will apply for a CE mark – a key achievement for any medical device.
Early laboratory development was supported by the Wellcome trust with a product translation award. Following the support of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub, Additive Instruments has been awarded an i4i (invention for innovation) award from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This funding will help it achieve its goal of first clinical usage within the next two years.
“The real value of the Enterprise Fellowship is in the soft support I have received. Business coaching, workshops to develop interpersonal and planning skills, as well as brilliant insights from my mentor have all been hugely useful as Additive Instruments starts its journey into the commercial world.”
Companies know who their suppliers are, but not their suppliers' suppliers. This makes it difficult for companies to manage many types of risks including supply chain disruptions, brand and reputation risks such as modern-day slavery in the supply chain, or carbon footprint implications and risks relating to regulatory compliance.
Versed AI’s technology uses state-of-the-art natural language processing (NLP) techniques to identify supply chain intelligence, including buyer-supplier relationships, products and services, and manufacturing locations.
Versed AI’s has three priorities for the next year. It plans to build a client interface as a basis for its SaaS platform, improve the size of its knowledge graph of supply chain relationships by adding new data sources, and increase the number of data points, such as manufacturing locations and addresses.
Supply chain disruptions are hugely costly to companies. A report by McKinsey (August 2018) estimates that over the course of a decade companies can expect to lose 42% of a year’s net earnings to supply chain disruptions. In the corporate world, 81% lack good supply chain visibility, and it is an even a larger problem for small- and medium-sized companies. Versed AI seeks to take full advantage of this huge commercial opportunity.
Commercial drones are now being used for several different roles such as mapping farms, inspecting buildings and search-and-rescue operations. Most commercial drone automation software on the market is generic, meaning drone operators and enterprises requiring customised solutions are forced to use many different types of software to get their job done. This becomes incredibly expensive and unreliable.
Hammer Flights Ltd is the world’s first adaptive flight automation software for unmanned aerial vehicles. It is highly versatile, supporting many different types of flight automation and yet is extremely simple to use. Using modular software architecture and APIs , the software morphs according to the task at hand.
Hammer aims to empower every drone operation in the world with adaptive flight automation to make their operations more productive, creative and safe. Its next key milestone is to understand how it can scale its enterprise offerings over the next 12 to 18 months.
The commercial drone industry is currently worth $13 billion and is expected to grow to $45 billion by 2025. A lot of this growth is attributed to enterprises rapidly setting up in-house drone teams and integrating drones into their existing workflows. Each one of these businesses will be looking for a customised flight automation solution that adapts to the needs of their business.
Hammer is currently grant funded by Ordnance Survey – the UK’s largest mapping agency – and the Royal Academy of Engineering through its Enterprise Fellowship programme. It has also formed strategic partnerships within the drone ecosystem.
“The Enterprise Fellowship has provided us with an amazing network of fellow entrepreneurs and mentors that we can learn from throughout our journey.”
Widespread uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) is essential to reducing global emissions, but is currently hindered by EV battery performance, safety and associated cost. Breathe creates software for EV batteries that markedly improves these characteristics without requiring expensive and time-consuming hardware changes.
The health of a battery naturally deteriorates over the course of its lifetime. Breathe’s software monitors the health of the battery during its operation and uses this information to manage the battery intelligently, minimising degradation. This leads to enhanced vehicle performance, charging rate and safety. These benefits can be used flexibly, from creating much greater battery lifetime to enabling the use of cheaper batteries to lower project costs.
Breathe’s vision is to have an install-base of millions of units, improving the performance of all high-value systems reliant on batteries. It aims to be recognised as the provider of an essential battery management technology for any new battery pack. It is currently trialling its product with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and is hoping to deploy the software commercially in the next 12 months.
Breathe has demonstrated the effectiveness of its novel battery management software in a representative vehicle environment using commercially available batteries. Breathe’s software, which controls the current flow in and out of batteries, has demonstrated its ability to firstly extend the life of that battery by 2.4 times compared to conventional methods. It also increases the average vehicle range of that battery over its lifetime by as much as 5%. The technology is the subject of an ongoing patent application.
The morphology of hair is determined by the shape of the follicle. The curved follicle of afro hair result in strands with ellipsoidal cross section and tightly curled hair. This structure hinders the ability of scalp oil to travel along the hair strand, which makes it drier than Caucasian and Asian hair. As such afro hair requires regular moisturising and less washing. However, due to its structure it tangles easily making its manipulation painful and time consuming. Applying conditioner and detangling can take up to 50 minutes, which can be particularly stressful for mothers with young girls.
For centuries, this pain, the lack of representation of Black women and the stigma around afro hair placed a pressure on Black women to conform to European standards of beauty. Many chemically straighten their hair to fit the Eurocentric definition of beauty. In the 2000s, the natural hair movement empowered Black women across the globe to embark on a self-love and self-discovery journey. Many are giving up relaxers and are learning to care for their hair, but the challenges in caring for the afro hair remain.
Myana Naturals has developed a device for application of treatments such as conditioners. It is optimised for afro hair and aims to reduce the time and the pain experienced when caring for tightly curled hair. Its mission is to support Black women in their journey by reducing pain, making every haircare day a celebration of their beauty.
The natural hair movement has created a significant shift in the hair care market, with a decrease in chemical relaxer sales and an increase in products to care for natural hair. In a survey of more than 300 women with afro hair, 70% said they take more than 20 minutes to apply a conditioner. In the US, the market for shampoo and conditioner for tightly curled hair is worth $1 billion. The demand for styling tools targeted for use with afro hair increased from 220 million in 2013 to 268 million units sold in 2018.
Next, Myana Naturals will engage with women with afro hair to finalise the design, understand their hair care needs, consumer habits and the best way to communicate with them. This is essential in defining the brand personality and communication style. In 18 months, it hopes to successfully raise funds and launch the applicator in the UK, reaching a position to enter the US market.
“I am mindful that this will be my first leadership role. This fellowship offers the right training and support to help me define my leadership style, and the value of the business, both will be essential in creating a company with a healthy and inclusive environment to attract and retain competent employees. I am also looking forward to improving my understanding of finance and marketing.”
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.