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.
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
Sustainable construction demands better management of social and environmental impact. To achieve this, reliable, efficient tools are needed to make sense of large volumes of data across the range of related fields.
Qflow is a cloud-based platform that enables construction projects to manage their environmental risk and stay compliant with environmental standards.
Qflow brings together machine learning and the Internet of things to capture and analyse environmental data, making it easier to identify and manage risk. This increases productivity and reduces cost while positively impacting the built environment.
The technology connects to existing, on-site systems to automate real-time data collection and analysis. This leads to better informed decisions, more accurate predictions and the ability to generate standardised reports. It reduces costs associated with delays and mitigation processes caused by unmanaged environmental risk.
Trials have shown that Qualis Flows’ solutions can improve data capture against existing competitors by over 100%. Four pilot programmes are scheduled for spring 2019 to further validate the technology’s use in monitoring aspects such as waste, noise, air quality and vibration.
Brittany Harris brings significant experience in civil engineering as she leads a multi-skilled team of engineers, environmental professionals and software architects as Qualis Flow brings its solutions to market.
Women deserve a better way of getting professionally fitted for bras. The lack of care and proper training within the bra industry means that bra-sizing confusion is a never-ending debate. Inefficient practices result in 80% of women wearing bras that don’t fit properly and billions of pounds lost every year in size- and fit-related exchanges and returns.
Combining state-of-the-art computer vision with data from real-life women (our co-creators), Brarista is bringing professional bra-fitting to bra-wearers’ homes. Its technology makes it possible for clients to find their best fit across product lines simply by using their phone camera.
Researching this technology to ensure its usefulness and accuracy is technically complex. Brarista is working hard to continue building, testing, and improving the current prototype before conducting technical trials.
The ongoing pandemic gave Brarista an opportunity to collaborate with Boost Innovations Ltd to apply its technology to fit breast prostheses online for breast cancer survivors (classified by the NHS as a higher-risk group). Research shows that getting bra-fitted using a tape-measure results in a 70% inaccuracy rate, but this is still the most popular method used by high street bra-fitters and online bra-fitting guides. Brarista hopes that its technology will improve the accuracy by at least 40% to be on par with professional bra-fitting by eyesight.
2018 - Won the Most Innovative Idea at the UCL Innovation and Enterprise Launch Programme
2019 - Team formation and acquired trial interests from the industry
2019 - Selected as a startup to be mentored by DeFine Network EU (a European Commission-funded FashionTech Community).
2019 - Selected as one of seven startups to join Women in AI & Data in Israel with InnovateUK
2019 - Highly Commended Award at the Academy’s Enterprise Hub Launchpad Competition Final
2020 - Crowdfunded successfully and matchfunded with NatWest Back Her Business
2020 - Acquired a new research client to apply its technology to fit breast prosthesis online
To find out more abut Brarista visit https://www.brarista.co/
“[The programme has helped by] providing the network of supporters, coaches and mentors that help me grow as an entrepreneur.”
Many young children want to engage with and create music but can find it difficult to learn an instrument.
Coming from a musical family, Michael developed the technology to support children to enjoy and be creative with music. He felt that the challenge of getting sounds out of an unfamiliar instrument gets in the way of understanding how notes fit together to make music.
Michael’s solution uses ‘Bops’ - brightly coloured blocks that each play different musical notes when arranged on a board. The Bops can switch between different instrument sounds and be endlessly rearranged to create new tunes and even combined into chords when stacked together.
Designed for children aged three to six years old, Soundbops makes it easy and fun for children to create their own music, discovering as they go what works and what doesn’t.
The technology’s ease-of-use encourages creativity and experimentation. It has strong educational value as it engages children in reading sheet music and composing songs without having to first master a complex musical instrument.
Michael plans to work with toy manufacturers and schools to capture a share of the £45 billion global educational technology market. In February 2018, Michael ran a successful crowdfunding campaign, raising over £50,000 to start manufacturing Soundbops.
Michael was the winner of the Hub’s 2016 Launchpad Competition and received the JC Gammon Award – a prize of £15,000 and Membership of the Hub.
The fourth industrial revolution is changing every element of enterprise. Companies that innovate throughout the value chain, such as Tesla or Dollar Shave Club, are achieving breakthrough growth,
While sales and marketing, product development, service and support and back office functions have seen significant digitisation and investment, manufacturing has been left behind. Often not integrated to the wider enterprise and with significant investments in legacy equipment, manufacturing has historically been a very hard environment in which to scale change. There is now a huge opportunity to drive digitisation and innovation in the supply chain to gain a competitive edge.
George is founder of Make-Sense, which is building on five years of industrial Internet of Things experience in the LPG sector. Make-Sense provides a data collection and analytics platform that empowers the whole supply chain from the shop floor to the top floor to drive radical efficiency and growth improvements.
Make-Sense is working with several of the world’s largest consumer goods brands to radically transform how they can leverage manufacturing as a core part of their growth and efficiency strategies.
The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly one million preventable neonatal deaths each year. Keeping the infant warm could save thousands of newborns each day. However, most incubators are too large, complicated and expensive for universal use.
James Roberts became aware of the problem of pre-term deaths in a documentary while studying product design and engineering. He co-founded mOm Incubators Ltd to create a solution, and led the strategic development of a lightweight, collapsible neonatal incubator that maintains a regulated thermal environment for newborns to thrive in.
James is the CEO of mOm and the innovation has won numerous awards. In 2019, he became an SME Leader and says that the programme came at the right time to help the company. “The coaching has allowed me to work through a particularly challenging time for the business and we’ve come out stronger for it.”
The company has recently raised over £1 million in development funding and is preparing clinical investigations while applying for CE marking. In 2021, mOm will start its commercial evaluation phase, aiming to go to market soon after.
What makes us different is the Academy’s Fellows and our wider Mentor network – an unrivalled community of the UK’s most successful industry leaders, technology experts and entrepreneurs. Find out more about our Mentors and their areas of expertise.
James uses storytelling to help innovative businesses reap the rewards of putting purpose at the heart of their business. Ranked in The Drum’s top 10 UK marketing influencers, he is a published author (Humanizing B2B), mentor and speaker. He’s passionate about helping technology and engineering companies achieve their potential to change the world for good.
James started out working in tech before moving into marketing, as he felt there was a real gap in the industry’s understanding of the fundamentals and potential of technology. After a prestigious grad role at Saatchi and Saatchi he joined Tidalwave in its newly formed strategy department, which shortly thereafter was ranked in the Financial Times’ Fasttrack top 50 fastest growing privately owned companies in the UK at the time. In two of his four years there he was recognised as the agency’s MVP.
He ran award-winning agency Mason Zimbler - recognised as ‘UK Agency of the Year’ by B2B Marketing, and then successfully sold it to a US marketing giant.
As Co-Founder of Rooster Punk, he helps ambitious companies achieve sustainable growth and profitability through a more human and meaningful approach to the way they build their brand. Rooster Punk works with startups like Currencycloud (now a unicorn), scale-ups, VCs and platforms like Crowdcube as well as corporates such as Tata and Samsung.
James is also an advisor, mentor and investor in several other businesses and charities.
Lisa has been building productive teams, driving change and helping people get organised for twenty-five years, working in multi-national corporates and investment banks before starting her own coaching business in 2017. She has extensive experience of hiring, managing and retaining great people and now works with founders and business owners across multiple sectors and industries to help them create inclusive cultures and strong, diverse teams.
Lisa is the bestselling author of The REAL Entrepreneur: How to simplify, grow and enjoy your business, and believes passionately that people management is a core skill for today’s entrepreneur. From her experience working with fast-growing businesses, she’s learned that while you can build a product without a team, it’s impossible to build a business without understanding how to build an inclusive culture and get the best from a diverse group of people. As an operational business coach, Lisa’s focus is always on the fundamental building blocks of business: people and processes.
Professor Norman Apsley OBE FREng recently retired from 18 years as founding Chief Executive of Catalyst Inc (formerly Northern Ireland Science Park), steering the organisation from idea to reality. The NI Science Park was a key first step to transform the near derelict H&W shipyard into the innovation district for Belfast. He had spent the previous two decades at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (now QinetiQ Malvern), where he had researched a wide variety of microwave and optical devices, publishing some 70 scientific papers and patents during his scientific career. He joined management in 1990, rising to Director Electronics and Site Director for the Malvern cluster in the then Defence Research and Evaluation Agency by 1995.
In 2011, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, just as he finished his term as Vice-President (Business and Innovation) of the Institute of Physics. He has been an active Enterprise Committee member from the beginning and continues to contribute to its various programmes as reviewer, mentor and on steering groups, most lately the SME Leaders’ Award.
Norman also supports the international work of the Academy. In 2018, he became Chair of the Academy’s Newton-funded project, Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF), which works in all 16 Newton Fund countries. Alongside in-country partners, LIF helps innovators with technology to tackle their country’s sustainable development goals launch startups. Over the past few years, LIf fellows have been built into a thousand strong, peer-to-peer support group across the world.
At home, Norman chairs the Local Economic Development Company serving South and East Antrim and consults occasionally for both public and private sector. In 2012, Norman was awarded an OBE for his contributions to science and economic development. In 2019, the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (Econ Sci) was conferred by Queens University Belfast. In the same year, he was awarded the Max Rainey Medal for service to the Polymer Industry of Northern Ireland. He is looking forward to Belfast becoming the first (of many) spokes to the Enterprise Hub.
"(Engineering) entrepreneurs are typically rich with ideas, energy and enthusiasm but cash poor. They cannot afford the quality help they need to find the right business model for their idea, discovery or invention. Pro Bono support from Fellows from their experience and from their “black books” helps speed the process and leads to increased innovation.”
Benedikt started his entrepreneurial journey during his undergraduate and has since built multiple companies across renewable energy, enterprise software, deep tech, drug discovery, and healthcare. As an experienced entrepreneur, he has raised millions in venture funding, scaled winning teams across multiple geographies, and closed over 100 deals, including with some of the largest global organisations.
Benedikt also supports several early stage companies, where he helps with fundraising, company strategy and founder journeys. He has mentored more than 50 early stage companies, many during a trip across the African continent.
In his latest venture, Sanome, aims to build a human digital twin to help people understand and maintain their health.
Lavaniya currently works as a Marketing Partner at bp Launchpad, where she serves as a strategic and tactical marketing advisor for portfolio companies.
Though her expertise and experience cover brand marketing, sales enablement and to marketing automation, she is most passionate about content, creative campaigns, and implementing blue ocean strategy. Whether the budget is small, big or non-existent, Lavaniya is able to adapt and utilise available resources to their highest potential and counts herself lucky to have learnt her craft through small failures rather than big successes.
After emigrating to Sweden, Lavaniya started her own media production company at the age of 21. She worked on feature films that never saw the light of day, TV programmes that did, and has produced around 2000 educational YouTube videos for a charity that teaches mathematics after school.
Lavaniya has worked with a diverse range of clients and businesses, spanning private and public sectors, and has lived in six countries across four continents.
After completing her MBA at HEC Paris, she worked in eSports (Fnatic), SaaS, and Telecommunications (at Croatia’s first unicorn company, Infobip) before jumping into the new world of Energy and tackling the energy transition. Outside of work, she’s writing her novel, participating in charity runs, and volunteering as a Trustee at the RSPCA in North London.
Former Inaugural Chair of the Enterprise Committee and a long-standing Academy Fellow, Ian Shott CBE FREng has played a prominent role in establishing the Enterprise Hub. His track record of helping businesses in the engineering and life science sectors transform their approach and improve their vision, ambition, business models and enterprise value is an invaluable resource.
Ian is the Founder and former Executive Chair of contract pharmaceutical development and manufacturing company ARCINOVA, which he sold to Quotient Sciences in February 2021 and continues as Senior Advisor to the board. Ian is also the Managing Director at investment and advisory firm Shott Trinova. Prior to his specialist investment work at Shott Trinova, Ian was the founder and CEO of Excelsyn, which was sold to an American multinational in 2010. Earlier in his career he held numerous senior executive positions at multinational life science companies across the globe.
Ian has a wealth of experience with major industry bodies. He is formerly the Chair of the UK government’s Leadership Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and a Governing Board Member of Innovate UK. Ian is also Visiting Professor at Oxford, Nottingham and Newcastle universities.
“Apart from a deep-seated passion to change the entrepreneurial landscape in the UK and rediscover our legacy from the industrial revolution, I am highly excited by the prospect of engaging with new young talent and using my experience to accelerate and amplify their success. I’ve been involved in mentoring for over a decade but believe the Hub offers a very special opportunity to work with the brightest and best”.
Roy Williamson has been helping companies see how their new innovations can disrupt markets for over 20 years.
For the past six years has been successfully helping early stage companies identify and define their strengths, enhance their uniqueness and develop their storylines to engage investors. Roy’s background is in engineering and cleantech and since 2013, he’s been supporting SMEs and entrepreneurs across a broad area of technologies and innovative business models.
Roy is an aeronautical engineer and started his career at Alstom, developing algorithms and models to estimate hardware costs of power generation gas turbines based purely on, often novel, thermodynamic cycles. He has assessed innovation ecosystems of the UK, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. He has also co-authored guides to support technology developers in the UK automotive sector assess technology readiness levels and help those in the biofuels sector to review pathways for second generation biofuels. He’s appraised novel technology solutions for blue-chip clients, developed proof of concepts and carried out due diligence activities to support investor decision making. He is passionate about the UK and knowledge-intensive companies, from software to deeptech.
Roy is Head of Origination at the Department for International Trade with relationships across the department’s teams, government and the UK’s innovation and investment ecosystem.
Formerly the UK Innovation Director for Atkins, Elspeth is the CEO and Founder of IAND, a digital platform that helps major enterprises manage multiple suppliers.
Initially graduating as a chemist, Elspeth later turned her hand to transport and urban design, demonstrating business and technical leadership on over 100 transport planning projects both nationally and around the world.
Elspeth chairs the Enterprise Hub’s Innovators Network and is a judge for the Hub’s Launchpad Competition. She is also a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
In 2017, Elspeth was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to Engineering and Enterprise.
“I believe that collaboration within our industry is the key to driving innovation faster. I am so proud to be involved with the Enterprise Hub, as a Mentor, and as Chair of the Innovators Network and to support young entrepreneurs as a Judge on Launchpad competition.
It is rare to find a place which brings together startups and established companies to exchange ideas and learn from each other. We have a shared goal which is to fast track the growth of engineering enterprises in the UK. The Enterprise Hub has helped me grow my business and it is helping young engineers build the businesses of the future.”
James Ashe first graduated in electronics and electrical engineering from the University of Glasgow. His postgraduate education was sponsored by The General Electric Company and he spent five years as Principal Research Engineer at the GEC-Marconi Research Centre. His research interests included: high-power, high-performance VLSI structures and devices, monolithic microwave integrated circuits and electronic interconnection and packaging.
He then joined Cambridge-based Anamartic (A Tandem Computer and Fujitsu Company) working on fault tolerant WSI (Wafer Scale Integration) devices. Jim was one of the first employees of Xaar PLC and was heavily involved in IP Licensing and fundamental in developing Xaar’s microfabrication facility on the Cambridge Science Park. He helped found Intense Photonics (a spin out based on IP in the field of quantum well intermixing - owned by the University of Glasgow) where he led the commercial activities. Intense Photonics raised over £56 million in private venture funding. Prior to joining the University of Edinburgh School of Informatics as Director of Commercialisation and Industry Engagement, he led the commercial activities in IP Licensing at the commercial arm of DSTL (Defence Scientific and Technical Laboratories). Jim is also the Director of Innovation at the Bayes Centre – the University of Edinburgh's innovation hub for data science and artificial intelligence.