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.
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
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.”
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.
Former Inaugural Chair of the Enterprise Committee and a long-standing Academy Fellow, Ian Shott CBE FREng has played a prominent role in establishing the Enterprise Hub. His track record of helping businesses in the engineering and life science sectors transform their approach and improve their vision, ambition, business models and enterprise value is an invaluable resource.
Ian is the Founder and former Executive Chair of contract pharmaceutical development and manufacturing company ARCINOVA, which he sold to Quotient Sciences in February 2021 and continues as Senior Advisor to the board. Ian is also the Managing Director at investment and advisory firm Shott Trinova. Prior to his specialist investment work at Shott Trinova, Ian was the founder and CEO of Excelsyn, which was sold to an American multinational in 2010. Earlier in his career he held numerous senior executive positions at multinational life science companies across the globe.
Ian has a wealth of experience with major industry bodies. He is formerly the Chair of the UK government’s Leadership Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and a Governing Board Member of Innovate UK. Ian is also Visiting Professor at Oxford, Nottingham and Newcastle universities.
“Apart from a deep-seated passion to change the entrepreneurial landscape in the UK and rediscover our legacy from the industrial revolution, I am highly excited by the prospect of engaging with new young talent and using my experience to accelerate and amplify their success. I’ve been involved in mentoring for over a decade but believe the Hub offers a very special opportunity to work with the brightest and best”.
Andy’s career in industry has involved co-founding over a dozen spin-outs and start-ups, three of which floated on stock markets. Virata floated on NASDAQ and at its peak had a market capitalisation of $5 billion.
His most prominent successes have come through RealVNC, which won the prestigious MacRobert Award in 2013, and Ubisense plc. Collectively, these two organisations have received five Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.
In academia, Andy heads the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory and is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall and Corpus Christi College. Elsewhere, he served as President of the IET between 2012 and 2013, and in 2007 received a CBE for services to the computer industry.
Andy is co-founder and Chairman of pioneering remote access software developers RealVNC and is also Professor of Computer Technology at the University of Cambridge. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1996.
“My own career experiences have demonstrated just how important it is that the bridges between academia and industry are present and robust, and also what can be achieved when the relationship works to its potential. The Enterprise Hub offers an invaluable opportunity for exceptional academics to work with experienced industry figures and bring truly exciting new technology businesses to fruition.”
Naeem Alvi is an award-winning brand strategist and the founder of Notepad. After years of helping fast-growth SMEs and big brands such as Nike, Adidas and RBS Natwest to better leverage their brand, Naeem founded Notepad to connect big brand experience with ambitious tech companies that want to define and scale up their brands effectively and affordably.
Recent achievements include:
John is Professor of Optoelectronic Systems and Dean of transnational Education at the University of Glasgow.
He moved to Glasgow in 1986, where he established an internationally leading research group addressing linear and nonlinear integrated optoelectronic systems. He developed new integration technologies for photonic integrated circuits based on quantum well devices and quantum well intermixing, which ultimately led to the formation of the spin-out company Intense Ltd in 2000.
Intense developed the world’s most advanced integrated laser systems, bringing monolithic laser arrays together with electronic ASICs and optics for precise energy delivery in a range of applications from printing to material processing. The monolithic laser arrays pushed reliability and manufacturing yields to new levels.
John has extensive experience of operating in both academic and high-technology industrial environments, and as a result has an excellent understanding of spinning out IP and creating commercial value from an academic base.
He has been involved with several start-up companies including Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd (1997-2000); Compound Semiconductor Technologies Ltd (1999-2000) and Intense Ltd (now Intense Inc) (2000-2009).
John was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2007; Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) in 2000; Fellow of IEEE (FIEEE) in 2000 ‘for contributions to development of integrated optics based on semiconductor quantum well devices’; and Fellow of the Optical Society (FOSA) in 2016 for ‘for contributions to quantum and photonics technologies and systems in III-V compound semiconductors’.
Alastair is Head of Analytics and Machine Learning at MDRxTECH, Mishcon de Reya's digital transformation consultancy.
Alastair is a UCL Computer Science PhD with a background in computer vision, analytics, machine learning, blockchain, strategy, and technology innovation. He is an experienced manager and entrepreneur who has built teams in both large and small organisations. He is regularly called upon to audit, evaluate and provide guidance to large scale technology programmes for MDRxTECH clients. An entrepreneurial and dynamic problem solver, Alastair co-founded Satalia, which builds and applies AI technology to solve efficiency problems for organisations such as Tesco and PwC. He also co-founded the venture backed WeArePopUp.com, and helped establish the IDEALondon innovation centre with Cisco Systems.
Alastair continues to maintain an active teaching role in the UCL School of Management (MSc Business Analytics) and Peking University, Beijing (MBA Technology Strategy). His research interests include technology strategy, blockchain, smart contracting and computational law.
Brewster Barclay has been selling, marketing and product managing for more than 40 years in a wide variety of high technology industries including printed circuit boards, both manufacturing processes and capital equipment, 3D circuit boards, online advertising, optical sensors, military chip packaging, radar tubes and software engineering services. Brewster has worked at Zuhlke Engineering, e2v technologies, Clicktream Technologies, Orbotech and PCK Technology Kollmorgen.
The experience of launching new products and almost six years running an internet advertising startup led to Brewster giving back in the form of mentoring early stage and growth startups. He identified a massive gap in business development, sales support and strategy that angels, accelerators and VCs give to startups. He has focused solely on sharing his experiences in business development sales, sales techniques and the practicalities of day to day sales and lead generation.
He has mentored at the Royal Academy of Engineering for the past seven years as well as for Accelerate Cambridge, Seraphim Space Capital and many other groups.
Vida is a behavioural change coach with over seven years’ experience helping people think differently and positively change lives. She helps people to build connection and balance in order to create a sustainable future for themselves, others and the world. Vida does this as a speaker, trainer and coach, focusing on wellbeing, self-care, belief change, and motivation.
Having worked in prisons and schools as well as the public sector with non-clinical NHS staff and private sector for companies such Telefónica and Wavin, she has a unique insight to share.
Professor Alison Noble is the Technikos Professor of Biomedical Engineering, in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford, and Associate Head of MPLS Division. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society (2017), the Royal Academy of Engineering (2008) and the President of the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Interventions (MICCAI) Society, the international society in biomedical image analysis.
Alison’s research interests are in computer analysis of clinical and biological images and the development and translation into clinical practice of novel methodologies that provide new diagnostic and therapeutic image based biomarkers and software tools for image-based quantification and decision-making. Her research group works in close collaboration with clinicians and industry players. She is also a Founder and the Chief Technology Officer of a university spin-out company that is commercialising research from her laboratory (Intelligent Ultrasound Ltd).
She returned to Oxford as a University Lecturer in 1995 to set up a biomedical image analysis group. Biomedical image analysis has since grown to be the largest biomedical engineering activity in Oxford.
Alison has played a leading role in setting up the biomedical engineering undergraduate and postgraduate biomedical engineering teaching and training (MSc and CDT) programmes at Oxford over the last decade. She is a member of both the Oxford University’s Research and Education Committees (from Oct 2013), and has served or currently serves on a number of committees of the Royal Academy of Engineering and other national organisations as well as numerous research funding agency panels.
Bill is a leading scientist worldwide in the field of Medical Materials. His major research contributions have been recognised by numerous international awards, medals and memberships.
He has been the Professor of Medical Materials at the University of Cambridge; served as Director of Cambridge Pfizer Institute for Pharmaceutical Materials Science; Cambridge Director of CMI Interdisciplinary Research Cluster in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering and Director of University of London Interdisciplinary Research Centre (IRC) in Biomedical Materials. He has been Head of Department, Dean, and Governor at Queen Mary University of London.
He has been the editor of the Journal of The Royal Society: Interface, the Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, the Journal of Materials Science, and of the Journal of Materials Science Letters.
Bill is Emeritus Professor of Medical Materials in the University of Cambridge. He is internationally recognised for his pioneering research contributions to biomaterials for medical devices, with awards including the Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Gold Medal; the Royal Society Armourers and Brasiers Company Medal; the Kelvin Medal; the European Society for Biomaterials George Winter Award; the Japanese Society for Biomaterials Medal; the Institute of Materials Griffiths Medal and Chapman Medal; the UK Society for Biomaterials President's Prize; the Acta Metallurgica H.H. Holloman Award and the International Union for Physical Sciences and Engineering in Medicine Award of Merit.
Professor Bonfield's exceptional interdisciplinary contribution has been recognised by his election to all three UK National Academies as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci).