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.
Plural AI is creating a new way to navigate industries by building a rich map of the world’s corporate landscape. Using natural language processing and machine learning, it mines and links web data such as websites, filings and news sources to create an understanding of what companies do, their ecosystems and how well they are performing. Clients can access Plural AI’s proprietary knowledge graph to gain bespoke financial insights and analysis.
Camille Rougié is Co-Founder and CEO of Plural AI. Camille joined the SME Leaders programme in 2020. She says: “I am looking forward to the one-to-one mentoring and coaching. I am also very excited to meet the other participants in the programme. In my experience, peer mentoring and support has always been one of the best ways to learn the tricks of the trade.”
Plural AI’s knowledge engine is readily scalable. It can deploy systems across the internet to apply additional metrics and filters. The company can also build predictive models to help make informed financial decisions. In the coming years, Camille says that the focus will be on building up the company’s profile and brand as well as accelerating its growth and expansion.
Gravity Sketch is an intuitive 3D design platform enabling cross-disciplinary teams to collaborate in an exciting new way. The technology allows designers to conceptualise their plans without needing to learn to use computer-aided-design (CAD) software, from concept sketches through to detailed 3D models using augmented reality, virtual reality and touch technologies. Users can view and manage their designs on their desktop and integrate Gravity Sketch within their end-to-end workflow. Design teams can reduce concept-time processes by up to 60%. The company aims to fundamentally change the workflows of engineers and industrial designers by speeding up the design process, saving money and making collaborations between stakeholders more efficient.
Oluwaseyi Sosanya is a mechanical engineer who co-founded Gravity Sketch Ltd in 2014. Oluwaseyi has used his experience in manufacturing physical products to focus the development of the software to solve spatial and ergonomic challenges in real-time. Now, users can make their workflows with existing CAD and rendering software immersive.
Oluwaseyi became an SME Leader in 2019 and credits the programme with promoting his business acumen. “It has provided me with a mentor who has helped me further develop my leadership skills, augment my strategic business skills, and make better decisions about growth and market focus.”
Since becoming an SME Leader, the company has raised £3 million in seed investments and been awarded a Horizon 2020 grant of £2 million, as well as increasing its workforce by a third. During the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for design teams to work from home, it became more important for remote workers to be able to integrate their work online. The increased adoption of immersive 3D technologies and cloud computing has benefited Gravity Sketch. The company is widening its customer base and increasing its direct-to-consumer sales.
“Not only has the Enterprise Hub opened me up to new professional networks, it has also helped me to readily access knowledge that is accelerating our efforts to bring our innovation to market."
Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Arctoris
Arctoris offers fully automated experiments-as-a-service that helps researchers to accelerate progress towards new discoveries. The service increases accessibility in cancer research by making cutting-edge techniques available using just a laptop and internet connection.
Current data generation methods in cellular and molecular biology are inefficient and yield poor quality data. Arctoris enables efficient data generation with a high degree of consistency, precision and reliability. Leveraging the power of robotic experimentation, Arctoris makes it easier for researchers and biotech entrepreneurs, in cancer research and other fields, to generate, analyse and visualise data. The cloud-based platform removes many of the financial, technical and geographic barriers to cancer research, improving the accessibility of leading techniques to all.
Arctoris co-founder, Tom Fleming, brings significant expertise as a chemist and experience in leading clinical research to the role Chief Operating Officer. He is responsible for overseeing daily operations and directing strategy and development of new capabilities and technologies.
Supported by the SME Leaders Programme, Tom has plans for the company to scale effectively and transition from small-team strategies to large-scale approaches for global distribution. Leadership training will help Tom to develop skills in measuring individual and team performance while creating an organisational culture that promotes collaboration, satisfaction and exceptional results.
Visit Arctoris's website here.
Since Bethan was 15 she has been fascinated by DNA, "I mean what could be cooler than understanding the code of life?" She wondered. Following her passion took her to University College London and gave her access to machines that could sample DNA - hugely expensive machines that only a few people could ever dream of using.
A college competition entered with friends started her on the road to creating the Bento Lab - a personal DNA lab that costs as much as a laptop and is not much bigger or heavier.
Now field workers can take their own kit with them rather than having to go back to their labs and anyone - not just professionals - with a passion for biology can sample their own genes or see what is in their beer. Or for the very brave, their burgers. Who knows what future Bethans armed with the Bento Lab will discover?
Her company, Bento Bioworks, is making learning and working with molecular biology orders of magnitude more accessible. The toolkit weighs only 3kg, fits on an A4 footprint, and contains all the equipment required to carry out basic research in molecular biology. This has widespread implications for science and engineering education as bento•lab users will be able to engage hands-on with genetic engineering and could potentially contribute to large-scale research projects. They are already taking orders after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
You can watch a video about bento•lab here.
“One of the challenges we all face is thinking that there’s a perfect time to start your own business. The harsh reality is that this mythical moment never arrives. There will always be challenges and excuses to delay making that decision, but at some point you need to get past those mental roadblocks and take the plunge."
CEO, Cambridge GaN Devices Ltd
Cambridge GaN Devices’ (CGD) new approach to designing high-performance Gallium Nitride (GaN) power electronic devices could transform the 600V semiconductor industry by offering a more efficient alternative to current silicon-based and GaN devices.
GaN’s physical properties mean it can operate at higher frequencies than silicon, resulting in circuits that are smaller, faster and more efficient. While GaN power devices already exist, CGD’s approach overcomes the stability issues associated with them, through use of a novel, patented transistor and adding smart functionalities. This new combination makes CGD’s solutions more accessible, allowing customers to leverage the benefits of GaN in a wider range of applications.
The University of Cambridge spin-out was co-founded by CGD CEO, Giorgia Longobardi who had a central role in engineering the core technology. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme, Giorgia is defining the company’s strategy while developing a rapidly growing staff. With an energy-efficient product that delivers from 5- to 10 times less power losses, Giorgia’s vision is to establish production partnerships and a customer-base that will allow CGD to target the £400 million GaN power device market.
Notpla is the name of both a material and a company that aims to significantly reduce plastic waste with a range of packaging solutions that naturally biodegrade in weeks.
50% of plastic packaging is used once and thrown away and estimates suggest that plastics can take several centuries to decompose. Notpla is a sustainable plastic alternative that biodegrades naturally in 4-6 weeks. It is made from plants and brown seaweed, a fast-growing, naturally renewable resource.
Co-CEO, Pierre Paslier, had a central role in developing Notpla’s first product, the Ooho, an edible, biodgegradable packaging solution used for beverages and sauces. Ideal for on-the-go consumption, Oohos can replace plastic cups and bottles at festivals and sporting events. It was recently trialled for removing single use plastics from the Virgin Money London Marathon.
With Oohos gathering market traction, SME Leader Pierre is developing a strategy to support industrialisation, increasing sales and new product development. Notpla’s future packaging solutions include heat-sealable films, take-away containers sachets and nets. Training and mentoring will support Pierre as the company scales up with a view to reaching a production of 1 million Oohos per month by the end of 2020.
Visit Notpla's website here.
Best practice in patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) in research and technology is essential for healthcare researchers and institutions. Currently it relies on costly, manual and time-consuming processes, as well as unstandardised quantification practices that impact funding and research.
Approximately £6.3 billion is spent each year in the UK and USA on healthcare research and development (R&D) that requires PPIE. However up to 72% of funding applications are rejected for not meeting PPIE standards such as lacking in overall research quality or methodology that patient/public insights could have improved. There is no infrastructure for quantifying PPIE data and associated R&D impact to improve future outcomes.
Dr Amber Hill, a translational neuroscientist, software engineer and entrepreneur, has developed software called R.grid by , to streamline PPIE activities and quantify its impact in healthcare R&D.
R.grid software digitalises human-centred design and data in healthcare and engineering. It supports researchers and institutions with tools to create, manage and implement the delivery of PPIE activities that save money, increase efficiency, and improve research.
R.grid can support savings of up to 91% by reducing the levels of investment needed to develop high-quality PPIE (£30,000 to £70,000+ per research department and several million GBP for institutions). These funds can be reallocated or reinvested in key research protocols, while engaging stakeholders, improving further funding opportunities and improving research.
Amber draws on her experience across healthcare research, software engineering, digital strategy development and social engagement to accelerate the development and scale of R.grid technology in preparation for its public launch.
Dr Hill was awarded a 2018 Enterprise Fellowship to support her in developing and launching R.grid’s technology to the public.
Companies dedicate lots of time and resources to innovating breakthrough products, yet a large majority of consumer packaged goods product launches fail: estimates suggest up to 90%. Solutions for mapping markets, consumer patterns and their complex relationships can help uncover new insights and support the creative thinking needed for successful innovation.
Klydo has developed a tool that provides innovation insights using artificial intelligence (AI). Its platform provides consumer brands with the market intelligence needed to accelerate product innovation, by using algorithms that enable a quantitative approach in what is traditionally qualitative research.
The technology aims to support and enhance creative thinking in any team. It works by combining machine learning with data visualisation to bring existing online information to life in creative and user-friendly ways.
Current approaches to market research can be expensive and time-consuming, typically lasting two to three months. Klydo’s technology works in real-time to offer differentiating perspectives, reveal unmade connections, and expose patterns and trends. This helps companies to more easily and efficiently build new products, make smarter, strategic decisions and improve innovation roadmapping.
Nick Schweitzer, CEO and Co-Founder, got the
idea to develop the technology based on an interest in how to engineer the
creative spark behind innovation. Klydo’s technology brings together diverse
interests and expertise in fields such as design thinking, psychology and AI.
It currently sells to leading brands such as Unilever, with others in line to
trial the platform.
Nick Schweitzerwas awarded a 2018 Enterprise Fellowship to continue developing the technology and support a growing team at Klydo. Klydo is also supported by Venture Capitalists Episode 1 and True.
Director of Innovation, Footfalls and Heartbeats
Footfalls and Heartbeats is a start-up developing smart textiles for use in a wide range of industries. Its innovative solutions integrate sensing systems into fabrics to create intelligent wearables that are comfortable and durable. One of the start-up’s first products is a pressure-responsive bandage for use in the treatment of venous leg ulcers (VLUs).
VLUs affect approximately 3% of the global adult population causing pain, swelling and reduced mobility. Compression therapy is the recommended treatment but its effectiveness is limited by lack of awareness and patient discomfort both of which lead to poor compliance. Footfalls and Heartbeats’ solution is a customised bandage with embedded sensors that allow responsive, real-time pressure monitoring. This can improve treatment of VLUs by helping to ensure that the correct pressure is applied during compression therapy. A wearable method to do this currently does not exist.
Director of Innovation, Fern Kelly, leads in developing the start-up’s product innovation pipeline which involves end-to-end strategic planning as its technologies are customised for commercialisation. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme, Fern aims to strengthen skills in leadership and negotiation to help with establishing the commercial partnerships needed for Footfalls and Heartbeats to brings its first products to market.
Visit Footfalls & Heartbeat's website here.
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.
John is a highly experienced executive and senior consultant across the oil and gas, renewable energy and digital technology sectors, as well as a member of many international boards. He has significant interest in the commercial and technology challenges that energy transition presents, especially as these intersect with corporations’ digital transformation.
John is currently Chair of the Gresham House Energy Storage Fund Board, which specialises in the commercialisation of grid-level storage investments. The company is now the largest energy storage fund in the UK and is the market leader. In November 2018, the company listed on LSE at £100 million and at the end of 2020 had a market cap of around £250 million; it is on a strong growth trajectory and should double in size over the next 24 months.
Until April 2019, John was an advisor to the Board of ACWA Power International (Riyadh), the largest independent power producer in Saudi Arabia. Until December 2017, he was on the Board of the ASX-listed Carnegie Clean Energy, based in Perth, WA. He is also an investor and Board member of Global Integrity, a cybersecurity software and cyber consultancy firm based in Washington DC.
John spent more than 25 years working at BP, the last 10 of which were spent at the corporate executive level in various roles including:
In his early career, John worked on the design and construction of nuclear power generation plants in UK.
Since leaving BP, John has been active as a senior advisor to blue chip global consultants specialising in the energy sector, energy transition and corporate digital transformation.
John serves on the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Committee.
Professor Dick Whittington FREng is an entrepreneur, business mentor and investor, focusing on the software industry and digital marketplaces, with over 30 years of experience in business. His experience has included co-founding a successful international software business recognised in UK through three Queen's Awards covering both innovation and international trade.
In 2012 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering where he plays an active role, including as a mentor for early-stage technology startups and spin-outs through its highly successful Enterprise Hub. He is also an active mentor and angel investor within several London and regional technology accelerator programmes, and is Honorary Professor of Business Innovation at the University of York.
Prior to pursuing business interests, Dick lectured in computer science at the University of York. He managed a successful research team and published several research papers and books. His latest book Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Cambridge University Press, 2018) provides an introduction to digital business for STEM students and early-stage entrepreneurs.
"The concept of the Enterprise Hub resonated with me as a solid, practical initiative to benefit UK engineering through engaging the Academy’s extraordinary network of talent. The role of the Hub in launching and scaling such businesses is of enormous value to the UK economy and the engineering profession.”
Paul Taylor FREng has led the delivery of some of the most demanding national security programmes in the UK, operating at the very highest levels of government. He is uniquely qualified to understand the evolving threat environment, as well as having an exceptional track record of driving and delivering change in complex organisations. Paul’s contribution to the world of science technology was recognised by his election as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2013, where he now sits on its Engineering Policy Committee.
Paul is Deputy Managing Director at AWE plc, where he is responsible for providing the AWE Board and UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) with assurance of delivery of the £1 billion per annum nuclear warhead programme. Prior to this, he was Director General of Technology and Chief Information Officer in a central government department, where he was a member of both ExCo and the main board.
He held the position of Director General of Strategic Technologies and then Director General of Equipment in MOD, and Senior Responsible Owner for the UK’s Future Nuclear Deterrent. Paul was the first Chief Executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL). The post carried responsibility for all elements of defence research and the 3,000 staff that were retained within government following the split of MOD R&D activities into QinetiQ and DSTL.
A member of several government technical advisory committees, Paul also chairs the Advisory Board of the Imperial College Institute of Security Science and Technology. He is currently advising and exercising several global retail and investment banks at board level, helping to address their cyber and information protection challenges. Paul sits on a number of bank board risk committee advisory panels.
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.”
Dr Liane Smith FREng founded Intetech Ltd in 1991, winning the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2012 for its software. She sold the business to Wood Group in 2013 and in 2018 she left to form a new consulting engineering business, Larkton Ltd.
Liane is enthusiastic about the capability of digital technologies to transform businesses, bringing efficiencies, cost reduction, production control and increasing safety. In her last role as Senior Vice President Digital Solutions for Wood, she built the new global service line and defined its strategy roadmap and development plan. Her expertise is in various specialist branches of engineering in the industrial and energy sectors and in software product design and commercialisation, data management, data analysis, and analytics.
“I try to fill in gaps in mentees experience and give them confidence in their decisions. Typically we touch on building strong teams, role and task delegation, agile development, growing sales, exporting and strategy."
Sir Peter Bonfield CBE FREng is a leading international business executive with over 50 years’ experience in the fields of electronics, computers and communications. Change management in international technology companies has been at the centre of his long and illustrious career.
Since 2002 Sir Peter has been involved with a diverse portfolio of companies and is currently operating at main board level or director of several companies in the US, Europe and the Far East. In the past, he has served in as CEO of ICL and more recently of BT Group.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (1993), the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the British Computer Society, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Marketing Society and the Royal Society of Arts.
Sir Peter is a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, Freeman of the City of London, Honorary Citizen of Dallas, Texas and Member of The Pilgrims of Great Britain.
More information about Sir Peter can be found at www.sirpeterbonfield.com
Scientist and entrepreneur Dr Graeme Malcolm is CEO and founder of the multi-award-winning photonics and quantum technology company, M Squared. M Squared is headquartered in the UK with offices globally and is one of the UK's most innovative and disruptive technology businesses, well-known for creating the world's purest light.
Graeme finds technological and entrepreneurial solutions to some of society's greatest problems from improving healthcare to halting climate change. He's a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, The Royal Society Edinburgh, and The Institute of Physics and his achievements include an OBE for his services to Science and Innovation, The Swan Medal from the Institute of Physics, and Entrepreneur of the Year at the Amazon Growing Business Awards.
Dr Mark Selby joined Ceres Power in 2006 as a control systems engineer and spent several years in various leadership roles. In 2013, he became Chief Technology Officer as part of deploying a new corporate strategy to embed Ceres Technology through licensing to world-leading product companies like Bosch, Weichai, Doosan and Honda.
Mark is responsible for all aspects of the Steel Cell technology and brings 20 years of experience in clean technology product development, always working in multidisciplinary teams to solve hard science and engineering problems. As CTO, he sits at the interface of the commercial, technology, shareholders and wider stakeholders’ worlds and uses this insight to build ambitious collaborative programs that create value for everyone involved in the journey.
Prior to joining Ceres Power, he was part of the Control and Electronics Team at Ricardo UK Limited. Mark has degrees in electronics, dynamics and control systems from the University of Leeds and is a charted engineer.
His mission is to get world-changing science out of the lab and into products that actually change the world.
Professor Roger Benson FREng retired from full-time employment 2003. Since retiring he has been a part time consultant in world-class performance, working with the NDA and other organisations. In addition he has been a Chairman/Director of four university spin-out companies: PAROS (failed), Perceptive Engineering Ltd (recently sold), Industrial Tomography Systems (slow growth) and TDL Sensors Ltd (sold). When requested he is also an assessor for Innovate UK, EPSRC and EU projects.
Roger has been a judge for the UK Best Factory Awards for over 20 years. During that period he has visited and benchmarked over 200 of the best UK manufacturing plants across all industries.
Over a 35-year industrial career Roger worked for ICI. Positions included Chief Engineer of ICI Engineering Technology and Head of the Global Control / Electrical Function. He created and managed the ICI internal Manufacturing Technology capability. In 1993 he was seconded to the DTI Innovation Unit for two years where he coordinated and published the Winning Report. For the last four years of his career he was acquired by ABB where he was the Global Technology Programmes for ABB Analytics and Advanced Solutions, and an Executive member of ABB Process Solutions.
In 1999 he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He has published over 80 papers, and given many presentations on innovation, process control, benchmarking, world-class manufacturing and the future of the Process Industries. In 1999 Roger wrote and published the Institution of Chemical Engineers book, Benchmarking Process Manufacturing. It is still the only book on the subject. He has been a Visiting Professor to three UK universities.