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.
The annual health cost to Europe is estimated at over €50 billion from exposure to emerging contaminants in contaminated water called Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Existing water treatment procedures either require excessive energy or hazardous chemicals and cannot filter out such micro-pollutants, including pharmaceuticals and pesticides.
Henrik Hagemann believes he has the key to resolving this and for treating over 300,000 hectares of land that is contaminated by water pollution in the UK.
His company Puraffinity (formerly CustoMem) is using material engineering to produce selective adsorbent media that can harness hazardous chemicals. They selectively filter out specific pollutants that currently can't be captured. This solution is 10 times cheaper to produce than competing advanced treatments and the adsorbent media can uniquely be regenerated on site using a safe liquid wash, leading to sustainable disposal of captured chemicals.
Puraffinity aims to sell granular adsorbent media internationally and fully engineered water treatment units in the EU, to major industries facing regulatory pressures such as airports and chemical companies. This would provide a cost effective, sustainable way to eliminate contamination from supply chains.
Puraffinity has already partnered with a global water engineering procurement company to remove PFAS from various sources and have executed successful in-house pilots with one of Europe’s busiest airports. The technology has raised over £4 million in grant and venture funding and a tech portfolio manager from Severn Trent has joined as full-time chief commercial executive. The firm has also won multiple awards at the world’s largest synthetic biology competition at MIT.
Stress and anxiety are now a pandemic. 18.1% of Americans live with an anxiety disorder and the World Health Organization estimates the annual cost of workplace stress in the US has grown from $190bn in 2017 to $300bn in 2018. These complex and rapidly growing problems have few good solutions and are not only costly but have a huge impact on quality of life.
Jack co-founded the company, doppel, to create a wristband that seamlessly interacts with our bodies to help us achieve the optimal state of mind for whatever situation we find ourselves in.
The wristband creates a silent rhythmic pulse that you feel on the inside of your wrist. Its heartbeat-like vibration works naturally, within moments, to help you feel calm, focussed, energised or relaxed. Like listening to music, a fast rhythm helps you to feel more alert while a slower rhythm is calming.
Doppel’s wristband can be used to reduce stress and stay focused. Those in high-stress jobs use it to stay anchored and calm. It has been used to overcome nerves at important events, manage anxiety and by those with ADHD to stay focused.
The technology is inspired by psychophysiology - the study of the relationship between the mind and the body and has been shown to reduce stress in controlled, peer-reviewed tests. User trials have also shown that it helps with concentration over longer periods, remaining calm under pressure or maintaining motivation during fitness training.
The wristband offers an alternative to traditional energy supplements, meditation and music as a way to achieve calm, concentration and focus. Following a successful Kickstarted campaign, the company is now focused on delivering its technology more widely to impact the growing mental-wellbeing market.
Jack was awarded a 2016 RAEng 1851 Royal Commission Enterprise Fellowship to support doppel in manufacturing smart wearables and bringing them to market.
Skin Analytics has developed a new screening technology, DERM AI, that uses artificial intelligence to quickly and accurately detect cancerous and pre-cancerous skin lesions including melanoma, the most dangerous of the common skin cancers. The company’s machine learning algorithms can identify skin cancer from an image of a skin lesion, helping clinicians to ensure that more cases of melanoma are caught at the earliest opportunity.
During consultation a picture is taken of a suspect pigmented lesion using a dermascope and image capture device. DERM AI identifies cancerous, pre-cancerous lesions and noncancerous lesions. Typically, fewer than 10% of dermatological referrals in the UK have significant skin cancer. This device enables GPs to triage more accurately and helps to diagnose problems at the patient’s first port of call.
Jack Greenhalgh is the Artificial Intelligence Director at Skin Analytics. Jack is responsible for designing, validating and implementing all AI and machine learning aspects of the business. He became an SME Leader in 2018 and says that the programme has helped him in several ways. “It provided funding for training that has proved invaluable in terms of learning new leadership and management skills. The mentoring was important too as I was able to discuss all types of business issues in a way that was both objective and confidential.”
In 2020, following successful series A funding, Skin Analytics is expanding its operations in the US after being awarded ‘Breakthrough Device Designation’ by the country’s Food and Drug Administration. The company is also increasing its presence in the UK where it has deployed a live AI-based skin diagnosis service in conjunction with University Hospital Birmingham.
Jonathan Quinn became an SME Leader in 2019 as Head of Software and Games at Reach Robotics, a company he helped build from the ground up. He developed its consumer gaming and educational robot, MekaMon. In late 2019, he joined Dovetail Games as Technical Director, taking on responsibility for several teams and all engineering at the studio.
Dovetail Games is aiming to become one of the world’s foremost gaming simulation companies. It has 160 people working on developing and publishing digital hobbies that recreate real-world scenarios for enthusiasts. It sells train, flight and fishing simulators for players on PC and console, built on the Unreal Engine.
Jonathan says that the SME Leaders programme assisted his transition between jobs. “The course has hugely improved my skills as a leader. Mentoring has provided critical advice and support through changing companies and goals. The coaching has helped me identify and overcome weaknesses, both as a leader and as an individual.”
Jonathan is now focused on growing Dovetail Games franchises. The company is working on e-sports, large-scale multiplayer games and cutting-edge realism. His teams are adopting artificial intelligence and procedural generation that he hopes “will level the playing field with larger video games studios.”
Metis Labs helps manufacturers improve the efficiency of their production processes. By monitoring the equipment and product data while learning the complex relationships, the software and artificial intelligence systems integrate with automated, high frequency equipment to reduce scrap and improve equipment efficiency.
Alex Appelbe is a mechanical engineer who spent 10 years in the manufacturing sector before setting up Metis Labs in 2017. Alex is the CEO and has overall responsibility for the business. He is passionate about improving manufacturing efficiency. He became an SME Leader in 2019 and credits the programme with “providing access to training courses that have massively improved my negotiating and product management abilities. Through the programme I also connected with an excellent, valuable mentor who has helped me with product vision and opened up several business development opportunities for us.”
Over the last few years, Metis Labs’ software has been extensively developed with the cooperation of several multinational manufacturers. In some cases, the company’s technology has achieved a 90% reduction in packaging losses. Now, Metis Labs is looking for partners to support the commercialisation and exploitation of its technology.
Fusion, the process that powers the stars, has the potential to meet energy demands and change the way the world generates power. For decades, research has sought to produce fusion energy on Earth by heating hydrogen fuel to temperatures well over 100 million degrees Celsius, where it becomes a plasma. One of the most developed ways of controlling the plasma is the tokamak, which creates a magnetic bottle to confine the hot fuel.
Tokamak Energy Ltd is a UK business aiming to accelerate the development of commercial fusion power by combining two emerging technologies: spherical tokamaks and magnets made from high temperature superconductors. The company has created a compact spherical tokamak called the ST40, which has already achieved plasma temperatures of over 15 million° C – hotter than the core of the Sun. The company is also developing powerful magnets made from high-temperature superconductors.
Steven McNamara is the Physics Programme Manager at Tokamak Energy and is responsible for the company’s scientific development initiatives. He became an SME Leader in 2019 and credits the programme “with improving my strategic business management and leadership skills. The training, mentoring and networking has enabled me to grow my team, build up the technical development programme and establish new collaborations and partnerships.”
In the last couple of years, Tokamak Energy has significantly increased its staff numbers to 150 and raised over £110 million in additional funding. The company is now designing a demonstration plant that will prove the viability of its approach and show the feasibility of fusion power as a plentiful, safe and cost effective energy source.
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.
The next generation of chemotherapies will target cancer cells more effectively than many current chemotherapies, which can cause unwanted side effects by attacking both normal and cancer cells.
Femtogenix is an established drug discovery startup specialising in the development of payloads - one of three key components in a group of targeted chemotherapies known as antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).
Payloads are molecules that are toxic to living cells and kill cancer cells. When combined with antibodies to target cancer cells, and a linker to bring all these molecules together, it creates a highly effective, targeted cancer treatment that is less likely to cause side effects.
Femtogenix’s discovery platform uses computational chemistry and state-of-the-art synthetic chemistry methodologies to both design and synthesise payload molecules that can bind to DNA and effectively kill cancer cells at low concentrations.
Paul Jackson co-founded the company and helps lead its scientific and commercial strategy as it refines its core technology. With support from the SME Leaders Programme, Paul aims to learn from a network of entrepreneurs and strengthen his leadership skills as the company expands and establishes its technology to support the development of ADCs in this rapidly growing field.
Cambridge Mechatronics Limited (CML) licenses its proprietary form of smart metal technology, called shape memory alloy (SMA), to electronics manufacturers. CML uses this material to design and develop miniature motors, also known as actuators, across a range of products.
The company’s actuators, moved by wires thinner than human hair, are particularly suited to applications that require high levels of precision and force. Some of its most significant sales are for use in smartphones where they are incorporated into cameras enabling autofocus and image-stabilisation functions.
James Howarth, as Engineering Director at CML, is in charge of a team of 40. He is responsible for delivering the company’s two leading products: integrated image stabilisation and autofocus, as well as independent image stabilisation. James became an SME Leader in 2019 and credits the programme with refining his communications skills. He says it has given him confidence to take a key role in commercial discussions as well as helping in his strategic thinking.
CML has established relationships with major corporations across international supply chains. The company's licensees have shipped millions of SMA-based camera actuators into smartphones, wearables and drones. CML is now developing technology for further applications in haptics, facial recognition and augmented reality.
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.