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.
When Umar Wani became an SME Leader in 2018, he was the Co-Founder and CTO of Accelerated Dynamics. The company uses artificial intelligence to create software that optimises the behaviour of robot fleets to accomplish shared goals faster and more efficiently than a single robot.
Accelerated Dynamics was acquired in 2019 and Umar played a leading role in the acquisition process. Umar has now left the company and is validating a new business idea. He is building and testing prototypes for a new initiative, currently under wraps.
Umar says that the SME Leaders programme “placed me on a path of self-discovery, both as an entrepreneur and product leader. It provided the basis for developing my leadership style. It has enabled me to acquire an executive education by targeting high impact courses such as ‘Leading Teams for Emerging Leaders’ taught at London Business School, which outlines the arts of influencing and negotiating. This gave me a solid insight and practical tips showing how to get buy-in from employees, fellow inventors and clients.”
Umar hopes to develop his business ventures and become a serial entrepreneur. He believes the SME Leaders programme has provided him with the foundation to launch and lead successful organisations.
Product development is a complex phase in the product life cycle, which spans from idea to pre-manufacturing. It is characterised by challenges such as ambiguity, uncertainty and continuous change as the product evolves from a concept to a fully manufacturable product.
A single development project often costs billions of pounds, requires multiple years and involves tens of thousands of employees and hundreds of thousands of activities.
Due to their scale and sophistication, 45% of these projects miss their time target, 63% miss their cost targets, and for every $1 billion spent about $120 million is lost due to inefficiencies.
AEMS has used cutting-edge research in artificial intelligence and project management to create a software solution that enables firms to plan and manage their projects more efficiently. The AI-powered solution enables companies to predict the performance of their projects, identify optimal execution plans and helps them to make more informed and tested decisions.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, AEMS intends to build its product from a basic prototype to a full commercial version, adding extra functionalities in the process. Alongside this, AEMS will execute a series of customer testing activities. The online project management software market is currently valued at £3 billion [PS1] and expected to double over the next five years. These tests will evaluate the value that its product adds to the customer, the user-friendliness of the software, and whether customers are willing to purchase it.
2014 - 2017: Developed the technology at the University of Cambridge.
2018 - 2019: Carried out a proof-of-principle study at Jaguar Land Rover.
2020 - Awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship.
2020 - Received pre-seed investment from Cambridge Enterprise.
2020 - Implemented additional features.
2020 - Set up second industrial collaboration for further customer testing.
“The Enterprise Fellowship programme has been enormously supportive through providing funding and, more importantly, a comprehensive training programme delivered by world-class experts covering the various aspects of entrepreneurship.”
An increasing number of organisations and businesses have declared ambitious plans to become carbon neutral, but lack the ability to develop a tangible action plan. This is due to lack of information, and not having an easy way to evaluate various emission-reduction measures efficiently and at scale.
Absolar develops computer technologies that use remote sensing and artificial intelligence to capture building characteristics and evaluate their potential to improve energy efficiency and use renewable energy systems.
Its software, Carbon Action Planning Tool (CAPT), is a business-facing application that helps organisations assess individual buildings and identify measures that can be undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The software helps users review the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of each project, supporting their decision-making process, and developing long-term action plans.
Absolar’s web-based application, Intelligent Energy Resource Assessment (INTERA), provides users with accurate and independent assessment results of the feasibility of installing solar energy panels on their buildings. It is integrated with latest market information and financial modelling and helps organisations, businesses and households install renewable energy systems to reduce energy costs, decrease their carbon footprint and gain carbon credits.
As of October 2020, over 300 local authorities in the UK have declared a climate emergency. The UK government’s intention to reach net zero is costed at £1 trillion by 2050 (BEIS, 2019) and requires 54 GW of solar capacity to be installed by 2035, equivalent to around £2.2 billion of investment per year. With this in mind, Absolar aims to achieve nationwide coverage and bring its software to all cities in the UK, and reach the overseas market by 2022. Absolar is also hoping to work with partners from the energy industry and local authorities to extend the application of its technologies.
Absolar’s software has been purchased by Portsmouth and Southampton city councils. It has received a European Regional Development Fund R&D grant, through the EMphasis3 CO2 Reduction Project run by the University of Portsmouth, University of Winchester and Greentech South.
January 2020 – Awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship.
June 2020 – Received revenue from software application and established a customer-funded business model.
November 2020 – launch of software application for southeast England (planning).
“With the valuable support from the Enterprise Fellowship, Absolar has been able to comprehensively examine a series of potential business models and identify the most suitable business structure and route to market.”
There is currently a dire need in the UK construction industry for insulation materials that are affordable, high-performance and fire-safe. This was highlighted by the 2017 Grenfell tower tragedy, which led to the ban of the most common plastic-based insulation materials in buildings above five storeys. All existing fire-safe alternatives are either expensive or low-performing, and with more than 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions resulting from gas-heating homes and offices, there has never been a greater need for novel solutions in this £850 million-a-year market.
Thermulon has developed a novel chemical process to produce silica aerogel powders. Silica aerogels are inherently non-flammable and one of the most insulating materials, but have historically been kept out of the construction industry due to high cost. This cost is largely due to their processing method, and Thermulon’s unique pathway significantly reduces price when produced at scale. Its vision is to use this to make buildings safer and more energy efficient.
Thermulon’s technology presents vast potential benefits commercially, environmentally and socially. Uninsulated UK solid wall homes alone lose 1.6 Terawatt-hours of energy per year (equivalent to the annual usage of 440,000 households). By addressing this market with its retrofit-applicable products, Thermulon can help the UK reach its 2050 carbon neutral goals. Fuel poverty remains an issue in 10% of UK households, and Thermulon’s solution can improve heating efficiency while consuming minimal floorspace, presenting an ideal solution for ECO3 government-funded projects in low-income and vulnerable households.
In the next 18 months, Thermulon aims to scale its material production capacity to be able to produce its first integrated insulation products and carry out demonstration projects in homes and buildings. Having the first demonstration home insulated with Thermulon material will be a major milestone that proves both the viability of the production process and its applicability to commercial use cases. The company will need to scale the process, work with development partners in final products such as plasters and renders, and collaborate with architectural firms to achieve this.
Thermulon has taken equity investment from both Deep Science Ventures and Sustainable Ventures. In addition to the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Fellowship, it has been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Tech Prize. Thermulon is collaborating with several development and commercial partners including the Centre for Process Innovation, Imperial College London, and lime render and plaster manufacturer Best of Lime.
August 2019 - Pre-seed equity investment from Deep Science Ventures.
October 2019 - First proofs of chemistry with Durham University and the Centre for Process Innovation.
April 2020 - Seed round equity investment from a consortium including Sustainable Ventures and climate-focused angel investors.
August 2020 - Awarded SMART Grant with Best of Lime and Imperial College London .
November 2020 - SMART Grant Kickoff for aerogel and plaster development and scaling.
“The Enterprise Fellowship has been key in helping Thermulon to focus its technical development on commercial goals and understand the landscape of the UK startup funding industry. Personally, the Fellowship has also proved vital to me as an awardee in providing guidance in the transition from employee to entrepreneur, and in connecting me with a group of like-minded individuals embarking on the same journey.”
Over two billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. Membrane processes have been identified as effective techniques to remove contamination and salts from water. However, existing solutions are energy and capital intensive, require frequent maintenance and impose significant barriers to deployment.
Waterwhelm are commercialising a patent-pending process for wastewater treatment, water treatment, desalination and dewatering that will overcome these challenges by engineering the natural process of osmosis. The innovation has the potential to cut electricity consumption by a staggering 90% compared to current practice and reduce capital costs by more than 35%.
Over the next 12 months it will be developing, commissioning and testing a sizeable pilot plant that will validate the technology in an industrial environment. Waterwhelm aim to learn from the unit and receive feedback from early adopters based on its trial performance.
Supported by the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub , Scottish Enterprise, Innovate UK and EIT Climate KIC, Waterwhelm has gained significant technical and commercial traction by developing one of the most promising technologies addressing problems faced by the rapidly growing global water market.
2018: Waterwhelm founded
2019: Winner of the Converge KickStart Challenge
2019: Awarded as the top enterprise emerging from the University of Edinburgh
2019: Pre-seed funding round completed
2020: Innovate UK Global Challenges Research Fund project starts
2020: First plant developed for technology validation in collaboration with a major industrial partner
“The Academy Enterprise Fellowship has provided the Waterwhelm founder with hands-on support in commercialising the technology.”
The fashion industry has a waste problem. Out of all clothing produced, 30% of it is never sold or worn.
Supply chain inefficiencies cost fashion companies an estimated $300 billion a year globally. Julija Bainiaksinaite founded MyFactori in 2014 to tackle this waste problem and is now building a platform for SME fashion brands to run and better optimise their supply chain logistics. Through raw material sourcing to production management and better demand forecasting, MyFactori is building a platform for companies to streamline their operations to reduce waste.
It is currently working towards securing founding partners and clients, and will launch its beta testing platform at the end of this year.
“The Enterprise Fellowship helped me to support my technology development and provided great educational resources on setting up a startup company.”
Text on many digital displays is designed to resemble a page in a book. This does not harness the dynamic, interactive, customisable potential of electronic screens. The current format is not designed with user experience in mind, but to be economical on space. For the visually impaired, the ‘steady-eye strategy’ is recommended, but no tool exists to achieve this. Lawyers and other professions have low productivity in reading-based tasks. The paragraph format does not fit well on small screens.
Predictive text allows machines to take on some of the burden of writing, by using predictable patterns in writing. BrightPage Tech is offering predictive text for reading. Like writing, there are patterns in the process of reading that can be predicted, allowing the machine to lighten the reader’s load.
When reading a line of text, our eyes do not move in a smooth, continuous movement; rather they move in a series of short, rapid jumps (saccades) and fixations. BrightPage’s core innovation is to make the text on the screen mimic these movements. Using a bank of eye tracking data, eye movements have been reverse engineered into an algorithm that takes any English text and presents it dynamically to optimise it for reading. The reader can relax and allow the electronic display device to do the hard work.
The first product in development aims to help some of the 285 million blind and partially sighted people worldwide. It enables them to use the ‘steady-eye strategy’, recommended when reading eccentrically. It is the only tool that targets this. Further products will target reading from small displays, speeding up reading-based tasks and immersive eBooks, with the company aiming to take advantage of the LegalTech AI market, which is growing at 36% annually.
BrightPage is currently validating the product market fit and making use of its partnerships with the Royal Academy of Engineering and Innovate UK.
2019: Selected for company formation from ICURe options roundabout
2020: Won £210,000 Innovate UK grant
2020: Won Scottish EDGE Wildcard competition
“[The Enterprise Fellowship] has provided training tailored to academics entering entrepreneurship, networking opportunities to raise investment and the funding to progress.”
Demand for e-Bikes across Europe is growing by 30% per year as people find them a fast and fun way to get around congested cities. However, most e-Bikes are too heavy and bulky to be used flexibly, for example with public transport.
FLIT develops lightweight folding e-bikes for urban commuters.
Folding e-bikes open up the market to new customers as they can be easily stored or used with public transport. By developing a folding e-bike from scratch, and integrating the electrical system into the frame, FLIT’s first product, the FLIT-16, is 30% lighter and smaller than a typical folding e-bike.
The first batch of FLIT-16s will be delivered to customers in late 2020. FLIT then plans to use feedback to continue experimenting in the folding e-bike niche. It will develop both new e-Bike models, for example to target customers in the leisure market, and new sales channels, such as leasing and subscription.
By the end of 2021, FLIT aims to have FLIT-16s available for purchase in shops across the UK, announce a new model of folding e-bike, and begin trialling a leasing scheme. In 2022 it hopes to expand into international markets in Europe and North America.
In 2019, 3.4 million e-bikes, worth £5 billion, were sold across the EU and UK. That volume had grown by an average of 31% a year since 2006. Folding bike sales also grew at about 15% a year over a similar period. The UK market for e-bikes is less mature than regional leaders such as the Netherlands or Germany, but is growing even faster. In the UK in 2018-19, the e-bike market grew by 66%, and folding e-bikes grew by over 200%.
2017 – Awarded Department for Transport Innovation Challenge Fund grant
2018 – Accepted onto the Design Council Spark accelerator, winning additional funding through a commendation award
2018 – Raised pre-seed investment from UK angels
2018 – Established a prototyping and manufacturing relationship in Taiwan
2019 – Filed a patent and registered designs for the FLIT-16
2019 – Eurobike Startup Award finalist and won ACID Design and IP Champion Award 2019 – Sold over 100 e-bikes via a Kickstarter pre-sales campaign, exceeding its target by 440%
2020 – Continued sales of the FLIT-16, and first deliveries to customers
“The business training has been extremely useful for expanding my knowledge of how the world of business really works, in particular my presentation, leadership and financial skills. The network obtained via the Academy is also very useful for raising investment rounds and consulting leading experts for advice.”
Electroplated coatings can become tarnished if exposed to corrosive environments.
Alex Nielsen has developed an electroplating additive that adds value to the metal coating by enhancing resistance to corrosion and tarnish.
Copper is naturally anti-microbial and anti-viral, but uncoated it readily corrodes, creating a maintenance problem for the end user. Armadillo Metal Coatings is currently testing the technical and commercial feasibility of its anti-tarnishing technology with copper electroplated coatings for door furnishings with a pair of world-leading industrial partners.
The door furnishing market is forecast to generate around £500 million in revenues in 2020, with demand for copper and brasses growing. This trend should accelerate due to COVID-19, as surfaces that can prevent the transmission of viruses and microbes become more sought after in hospitals, public areas and offices.
May 2020 - Closed first round of VC funding
August 2020 - Received £2,000 from Swansea University for project work to combat COVID-19.
“The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Fellowship programme have provided very good advice on Venture Capital, grant funding and recruitment. The courses have been very useful, specifically sales and marketing. The award has also allowed our company to use university facilities during lockdown meaning technical development has progressed.”
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).