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.
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).