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 likelihood of patient recovery decreases with delayed ophthalmic disease detection.
Aston Vision Science’s unique, patent pending illumination system allows for low cost, all-in-one ocular diagnostics that provide fast results. Because the system is portable, it can reach patients that are currently left behind, including everyone from older people in the UK with mobility issues through to remote communities is developing nations. Aston Vision Science will have its first commercial unit assembled and ready to demonstrate in mid-2021.
Due to the low cost, high accuracy and portable nature of its instrument, it will be valuable around the world. The largest ophthalmic instrument markets were North America ($831.8 million) and Europe ($526.7 million), however a fast growing market is emerging in the Asia-Pacific region ($482.8 million).
In 2016, China had the highest global rate of dry eye syndrome with 200 million cases and in some studies, up to 21% of adults suffering. In China, 80% of its blind population lives in rural areas, yet 75% of their 28,000 eye doctors work in cities. Patients must travel far before they are able to get the care they need, with similar patterns repeated around the world. Aston Vision Science's goal is to provide quality eye care, everywhere.
April 2018 - Patent application filed
May 2018 - Icure Placement
July 2018 - Aston Vision Sciences incorporated
June 2019 - MICRA funding awarded
July 2019 - Innovate UK Smart awarded
Jan 2020 - Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship Awardee
2020 - Seed funding
July 2020 - Innovate UK COVID-19 Continuity Grant awarded
August 2020 - three full-time and two part-time employees
“The programme has been great in helping me transition from an engineer into an entrepreneur. I have gained much insight into the detailed workings of successful early stage companies and learned many details to help to ensure the company is setup correctly and is attractive to investors.”
If disease evolution could be predicted, treatment cycles could be altered to improve care for patients.
WarnerPatch is a medical device that predicts disease evolution to enable clinicians to give preventive care. Particularly focusing on peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), which includes diabetic foot and wound care, WarnerPatch reduces the treatment cycle by improving patient management for healthcare providers.
WarnerPatch comes as a non-invasive, wearable wireless (using 2G network) sensor that continuously measures disease symptoms. Using AI, prediction on future disease evolution is given, with notifications if symptoms get worse. Clinicians can access the results in real-time and be notified when a patient becomes high risk.
WarnerPatch aims to help clinicians augment their understanding of disease progression, to improve patient outlook and outcomes, and reduce related care cost.
In the UK, there are about 5,000 unnecessary amputations carried out annually on PVD patients due to poor patient management and long treatment cycles. 50% of these patients die within two years. It costs the NHS £1.4 billion a year to treat PVD patients and indirectly, a further £1 million per amputee. WarnerPatch aims to reduce these numbers to zero.
Manufacturing shop floors are complex and variable environments that make producing components on time, on cost and at the right quality a daily battle. Businesses often lack visibility into shop floor processes, leading many to see high-value manufacturing as somewhat of a dark art.
In the high-value manufacturing sector, the average utilisation of a machine is less than 30%. Despite costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, these machines spend over two thirds of their lifetime in an idle state.
In Yorkshire there is a saying “If it ain’t cutting metal, it ain’t making money” and a lot of manufacturers are losing out due to poor machine performance. This decreases their return on investment, creates higher production costs and ultimately leads to less successful manufacturing in the UK. Even just a 10% increase in productivity would be revolutionary and allow manufacturers to make more with the resources they already have – restoring manufacturing back to its place at the heart of the economy in the UK and beyond.
ForJaw has worked with two tech companies in its hometown of Sheffield to create its technology: The Curve, who helped increase the capabilities of its data analysis platform and web application; and Razor, Microsoft experts who created a secure, scalable and flexible pipeline for extracting data from machines on the shop floor and sending it up to FourJaw’s cloud platform.
FourJaw’s roots are in the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), where the team met and the initial technologies were developed. Using the engineering pedigree available at the AMRC, FourJaw has built a deep understanding of manufacturing operations.
“Quite simply, FourJaw would not be where it is today without the Enterprise Fellowship. The blend of mentoring, training, coaching and funding has accelerated our business growth and helped us navigate the difficult first phase of our business. The doors opened by the Enterprise Fellowship to contacts and connections have also been a key resource we’ve benefitted from.”
August 2020 – FourJaw kicked off a case study with Microsoft to demonstrate Azure (the FourJaw cloud platform of choice) in manufacturing
September 2020 – FourJaw featured on the front pages of MTDCNC magazine
There are 70 million people who require prosthetic limbs around the world. Sadly, limb loss is up to 100 times more common in low-resource regions of the world. Current prostheses are rigid, uncomfortable, over-engineered and prohibitively expensive – up to tens of £1000s per device. Because of this, 90% of people with limb differences have no access to prostheses at all.
Ben Lakey is the Co-Founder of Mitt Wearables. Mitt has developed easy-to-use, comfortable prosthetic limbs that are drastically more affordable than any other solutions.
Instead of having rigid sockets that clinicians must specially fit to users, Mitt’s prosthetic limbs have an adjustable interface that users can fit themselves, which makes them light, breathable and much more comfortable. They are developing a growing range of task-specific tools that clip in and out of the prosthesis – for holding a pen, a kitchen knife, a table tennis bat or anything else the user needs.
Ben’s interest in prosthetics stemmed from a personal experience, after his sister had a traumatic foot injury seven years ago that eventually led to a below-knee amputation. He saw first-hand the difficulties she experienced with rehabilitation and trying to get prosthetics fitted correctly.
With an affordable price point, and a device that can be fitted by users themselves without medical intervention, Mitt can provide prosthetics direct to the users and communities that need them, no matter how isolated from medical infrastructure. Mitt aims to remove barriers and empower individuals to take control over their own disability, creating opportunities for people around the world by giving them the power over their own limbs.
Find out more about Mitt Wearables at https://www.wearmitt.com/
Duvas Technologies has developed the DV3000, air quality monitoring technology that can analyse urban pollution by measuring the concentration of gas types to within parts-per-billion concentration. Using ultraviolet spectroscopy it can detect and monitor 14 hazardous gases simultaneously. Using patented technology, the DV3000 unit produces real-time atmospheric measurements of toxic gases including benzene, toluene, ammonia and formaldehyde.
Duvas works with environmental protection agencies around the world to monitor air pollution. The DV3000 is able to measure levels of urban pollution and track longer-term changes and trends.
Dr Phillipa Smith is the CTO at Duvas Technologies, leading the science team and overseeing its technical and manufacturing operations. Phillipa has been an SME Leader since 2018 and credits the programme with boosting her managerial abilities. She says: “The workshops, coaching and mentoring aspects have improved my confidence in my capabilities and provided additional tools to maximise my input to the business. The networking side of the business has provided a large range of peers from a variety of backgrounds and careers. I also chair the SME leaders general roundtable to facilitate peer support and discussion across different cohorts.”
Duvas Technologies has recently secured additional funding that will enable it to expand its sales reach and research and development. The company’s sensing and monitoring systems for air quality will be useful for the oil and gas sector and could have a legislative role to play in tracking air pollution worldwide.
Oxford Vision and Sensor Technology (OVST) is a University of Oxford spin-out that specialises in the design and manufacture of 2D and 3D machine-vision systems. These are transforming industrial manufacturing processes by allowing robots to guide and identify objects for automatic operation.
OVST’s Glazer Robot Guidance System is used by automotive manufacturers around the world when inserting glass into their vehicles. The system collates data to improve production processes and productivity from a cloud computing platform. This enables engineers working remotely to access the information and check the quality of every car leaving a site.
Fhon Supmak is the Chief Executive Officer at OVST, responsible for guiding the commercial and technical strategy of the company. Fhon became an SME Leader in 2019, and says: “The training and mentoring empowers me to think beyond my own personal experience. The networking has been helpful for the company vision and has connected me to a wider tech community.”
OVST’s products include 3D vision for robot guidance and inspection, activities that focus mainly on the automotive sector. The company is now expanding into new areas including laser tracking and welding applications. OVST has recently launched a new 3D vision sensor for automotive glazing and robot guidance that is the smallest and lightest on the market.
Advances in robotics are creating new opportunities for automating processes. However, robots lack the dexterity and sensing abilities of humans, making it a challenge for robots to complete many tasks that humans can do.
Wootzano Ltd is an electronics company with a patent-pending process for developing an electronic skin for robots. Known as Wootzkin, the technology enables robots to sense and feel as humans would, allowing robots to easily complete more dextrous jobs.
Wootskin can bend, stretch and twist without damaging its sensor for measuring force, pressure, temperature and humidity. It can be manufactured using standard techniques such as photolithography, stencil film or screen printing to enable micro or nanofabrication on soft materials.
There is a significant market for robotic manipulators that can perform dextrous jobs in the agri-robotics industry. Here, robots can transform agricultural capacity in areas such as picking and sorting fruit and vegetables. The agri-robotics market is currently worth around £1.6 billion and is expected to reach £9.68 billion by 2022.
As the company’s founder, Dr Atif Syed brings extensive expertise in electronics, nanotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence as he leads the company in scaling up manufacturing processes and bringing its first products to market.
Atif is also developing a strategic roadmap for future technological developments, including using Wootzkin for in tyre pressure monitoring and prosthetics. The electronic skin can also be used for robots deployed in extreme conditions, such as the autonomous maintenance and repair of wind turbine blades.
Dr Syed was awarded a 2018 Enterprise Fellowship to support him in scaling up his startup and refining its technology to bring it to market.
Gallium nitride (GaN) has been dubbed the silicon of the future. It has properties that can give it an edge in the market including better energy efficiency, higher power and frequency operation than any other semiconductor material.
However, to make GaN widely available and get it adopted by the semiconductor industry (which is built almost entirely on silicon), there has to be a lower manufacturing cost and improved product performance.
Dr Tongtong Zhu is as a member of the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride, and a co-founder of Porotech. The company, a University of Cambridge spin-out, has developed a new production process to make ‘porous GaN’. Porous GaN is a composite of solid GaN semiconductor and air. The company can create GaN with nanoscopic holes in it, from which it can engineer a wide range of material properties such as optical, mechanical, thermal and electrical. Essentially, it is offering a brand new material platform for semiconductor devices to be built upon.
In April 2020, Porotech closed a £1.5 million seed round investment that will allow it to develop a pilot plant in Cambridge, from which to launch its first products, enable customer validation and evaluation. Its first targeted market is LEDs. The company will supply highly reflective GaN mirror wafers to the epiwafer market - the essential base material to make LED chips - which will reach $2.3 billion by 2021.
Its second market focus will be for high power GaN devices. The company will sell porous strain compliance technology and GaN-on-silicon wafers for the emerging GaN power device market.
Dr Zhu says: “The pilot plant will start with small-scale production to show that our wafers can be made in volume and then potentially produce thousands a year.” Eventually, Porotech could license out its technology.
Dr Zhu joined the SME Leaders programme in September 2020 with ambitious plans to scale up his business. He wants to let go of some of the technical development responsibilities at the company and take on more of the business and management duties. Tongtong feels that the mentoring scheme and entrepreneurial courses will give him the leadership skills needed to take Porotech into its next phase of growth.
Porotech will start raising Series A investment in 2021, which will enable the company to start manufacturing its own semiconductor devices and products and licensing to address the worldwide market opportunity.
2018 – Porotech won Cambridge Enterprise’s Postdoc Business Plan Competition 2018
2019 – Porotech won the
gold award of the fifth China “Internet Plus” Innovation and Entrepreneurship
2019 - Dr Tongtong Zhu was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2020 – Closed a £1.5 million seed round investment
Visit their website: www.porotech.co.uk
In a global analysis of all the plastic ever made, the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances estimated that of the 8.3 billion tonnes that has been produced, 6.3 billion tonnes has become plastic waste. With only 9% recycled, the vast majority is accumulating in landfills or in the natural environment as litter. If present trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic in landfills.
Many feel that a circular economy that considers the end destination of what is manufactured would help manage material production responsibly. From buttons to car doors, and spectacles to countertops, the use of sustainable alternatives to petroleum plastics would offer multiple plastic end-of-life scenarios.
Rowan Minkley, is the Co-Founder and CEO of Chip[s] Board. Chip[s] Board is a bioplastic technology company that converts food waste into bioplastics. It currently produces polymers and composites. The composites are natural-fibre reinforced melt blends for applications such as furniture, fashion and consumer electronics.
The company has developed a process to convert waste food by-products into a trademarked bioplastic called Parblex®. The main ingredient for this is upcycled potato scraps, supplied by the global food processing giant McCain Foods. By combining this with natural fibres, biobased composites can be made that are biodegradable and recyclable at the end of their product life. Parblex® is compatible with injection moulding, 3D printing, milling and other industrial processing techniques.
Rowan says: “Many current bioplastics are produced from virgin food crops – such as corn or sugar beet – that are grown specifically to create the materials needed for creating the bioplastic substance. Our philosophy is that a circular economy within waste (by-product) management and material production will create a new sustainable model, utilising the abundant resources we already have rather than continuing to process virgin materials.”
Chip[s] Board’s team is currently looking into the waste stream to find new materials to upcycle and diversify their product lineup.
2017 - Company founded
2018 - Shell LiveWIRE Award, Creative Conscience Award, Santander Entrepreneur of the Year
2018 - Rowan Minkley was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2018 - Rowan won the Launchpad Competition
2018 - McCain secured as a material supplier
2018 - Raised pre-seed Angel investment
2018 - Team expands to five full time staff
2019 - Relocation to Leyton warehouse, 100-litre production line established
2019 - Received Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology SME grant and Knowledge Transfer Network Spark Award
2020 - Team expands to seven full time staff
Visit their website: www.chipsboard.com
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).