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.
and Chief Technology Officer, Oxford HighQ
Oxford HighQ is a spin-out company from the University of Oxford’s Departments of Materials and Chemistry. It is developing nanoparticle sensing instruments that are up to 10,000 times more sensitive than available optical sensing technologies. The company has engineered a way of producing large-scale, repeatable, high precision optical microcavities for the first time.
These sensors will enable new tools to be created in pharmaceutical and medical research, as well as food and water monitoring. This technology could prove a step-change in performance for chemical and nanoparticle sensing.
Aurélien Trichet is Co-Founder and CTO at Oxford HighQ, managing the R&D team and directing technology development. He became an SME Leader in 2020 and is looking forward to using the programme. He says: “This opportunity is ideal for me. It will allow me to move from a heavy academic skillset to a more business and technology management one. The workshop, coaching and mentoring will all help me make this transition.”
Oxford HighQ is aiming to transition from R&D to mass production in 2021. Its first product provides a way to measure drug loading and delivery profiles as well as particle size for nanomedicine applications. As a consequence, researchers within academic institutions, SMEs and pharmaceutical companies will have better quality assurance procedures, a crucial requirement in this valuable industry.
Research shows that 23% of the
world’s energy is lost through tribological contact, which is the wear and
friction generated by interacting surfaces in motion.
Tribosonics Limited, a Sheffield company, has developed sensing technology to tackle wear, friction and lubrication issues in rotating equipment. The business venture designs, manufactures and installs high-end, often bespoke, ultrasonic sensing and data capture platforms across many industrial sectors.
Tribosonics inserts sensors within bearings, seals and other moving parts to create smart components that can measure and monitor tribological contact as well as other performance and structural metrics. The generated data helps companies to extend plant life, prevent critical failures, shorten maintenance cycles and reduce energy use through improved operational efficiency.
Christina King is the Chief Commercial Officer for Tribosonics, responsible for building innovative commercial partnerships with large corporations. Christina joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and says “I want to gain business insights and build networks that will help develop my personal journey, as well as scale-up the company.”
In 2020, Tribosonics secured over £1 million of equity investment from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, via Mercia Asset Management. This will enable the company to double in size over the next three years. It is now looking to further expand its patented ultrasonic sensing technologies into global industrial markets.
Lightpoint Medical develops molecular imaging and sensing technologies to help surgeons detect cancer in real time during surgery. In spite of the technological advances in robotic surgery, surgeons still depend on their eyesight to detect cancer intra-operatively. As a result, surgeons sometimes leave cancer behind or remove more healthy tissue than needed.
The company’s award-winning SENSEI® technology, a miniaturised intra-operative cancer detection probe, gives surgeons a chance to fully remove cancer in one procedure, while retaining healthy tissue. It can be used across many major cancer types including stomach, colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancer.
Dr Kunal Vyas is the Head of Research at Lightpoint Medical, responsible for evaluating new technologies, overseeing research projects and developing the company’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio. Kunal joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021. He says “I hope that the programme’s strategic innovation management initiative will maximise my performance as we commercialise and scale-up. I will also benefit from access to workshops and speaker events on topics such as IP management and pitching.”
In 2021, SENSEI® received CE mark, enabling it to be sold in the European Economic Area. Lightpoint Medical has begun multi-centre clinical trials with the probe. The company will now transition from being an R&D-focused organisation into a commercial enterprise.
Grakn Labs have developed a system called Grakn, an open-source intelligent database. Grakn handles large amounts of complex data through knowledge engineering – commonly known as knowledge graphs. It is the world’s first database with a schema powered by a knowledge representation system and uses a query language called Graql to enable this.
Grakn’s database technology provides the knowledge base foundation for artificial intelligence systems used in various industries, including financial services, defence and security, life sciences, robotics and cyber security.
Tomás Sabat is the Chief Operating Officer at Grakn Labs, responsible for generating sales, marketing and finance. He develops strategic relationships with clients who can benefit from Grakn’s ability to easily model, query and analyse complex information in a simple and logical way.
Tomás joined the SME Leaders programme in 2018. He says: “The scheme has given us an introduction to investors and provided leadership and media training. It has also supplied us with networking opportunities with other engineering businesses in the UK.”
Grakn Labs has doubled its staff in two years and raised £2.4 million of funding. It is now ready to produce at scale, both in terms of commercial adoption as well as scaling its technology.
MySense Ltd has created a wellbeing analytics platform for people with declining health, enabling them to live independently in their own homes. Its system uses a network of wearable and fixed sensors in a property. Using artificial intelligence and the internet of things, the platform learns a person’s pattern of behaviour, while building up an informed picture of a user’s health condition.
Thousands of data points track a user’s nutrition, hydration, independence, activity and overall sense of wellbeing. A smartwatch records heart rate and step count, while an easy-to-use dashboard displays the information, highlighting any unusual patterns and triggering a notification to a nominated responder.
MySense monitoring data doesn’t record video or sound as there are no cameras or microphones. The real-time data allows family members, friends, clinicians and care givers to stay informed about a person’s wellbeing. Detailed evaluations through use have shown significant reductions in GP appointments, 999 calls and unplanned hospital admissions.
Lucie Glenday is Co-Founder and Group CEO of MySense. Lucie joined the SME Leaders programme in 2021 and is looking forward to two specific programme initiatives. She says “Having a mentor will allow me to talk through decisions the company is making and how to position these in order to gain maximum impact. And I’m hoping that learning at one of the world’s top universities will further develop my leadership skills.”
MySense consists of data scientists, engineers, testers, clinical researchers and a commercially-experienced management team. The company is growing quickly and is now working on raising brand awareness, building a research partnership network and preparing its platform for international markets.
When Mohammed Belal became an SME Leader in 2019, he had already co-founded MIRICO, a company developing laser sensing technology for real-time gas sensing. Now, Mohammed is setting up a new venture, Celestial Eye, a spin-out from RAL Space.
Celestial Eye is developing innovative space-borne sensors deployed in a constellation to obtain global high-precision weather data. The project is working on providing high-resolution profiles of moisture and temperature across the atmosphere. This will improve the observation and forecasting of weather patterns as well as monitoring climate change.
Mohammed credits the SME Leader programme with honing his entrepreneurial skills, He says: “I gained valuable insights from other SME Leaders about startups and networking. It also helped me develop my management capabilities and the fundamental skills required to set up and scale businesses.”
Mohammed is responsible for setting up the venture and defining business strategy for the launch and development. He is currently focused on raising capital to build an engineering team and launch its first satellite. The mission will improve observations of weather systems, and more accurately forecast extreme events.
Co-founder and Chief Science Officer, Adaptix Ltd
ViBo Health is a startup that will offer some of the benefits of traditional laboratory tests without needing to give blood and wait for the meta-analysis. The company is working on instrumentation that will scan a person’s wrist using hardware based on magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), combined with advanced signal processing and machine learning.
The 10-second scan, using non-invasive molecular spectroscopy, will provide real-time analysis of various metabolic measurements. When used regularly, this data will show an individual’s health trends by outlining changing vitamin levels, cholesterols and diabetes parameters.
ViBo Health intends to place scanners in high-traffic venues such as gyms and pharmacies. As well as giving users an insight into their own health and fitness status, the anonymised data would be of use to clinicians and health workers to analyse more general health trends.
Dr Gil Travish co-founded ViBo Health in 2020. He became an SME Leader in 2017, when he was Chief Science Officer at Adaptix, another company that he co-founded. Gil says that the SME Leaders programme “has been instrumental in my development as a founder and leader of startups. With ViBo Health, it has helped me with networking and defining the company through multiple roundtables.”
The company’s current aim is to focus on formal product definition and gain a fuller understanding of the market. ViBo Health Europe has already received support from the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre in Portugal and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. It is now working on several grant applications and hoping to bring in new investors.
“[The SME leaders programme] has been instrumental in my development as a founder and leader of startups. With ViBo Health, it has helped me with networking and defining the company through multiple roundtables.”
MediSieve has developed
magnetic blood filtration, a unique tool that enables doctors to selectively
remove harmful substances directly from a patient’s bloodstream. Practically
any target can be removed including specific cells, inflammatory cytokines,
pathogens and antibodies, providing a platform to treat a huge range of medical
conditions and accessing billion-dollar global markets.
The MediSieve Filter is a single-use, disposable magnetic filter that can capture and retain magnetic components. It can filtrate large quantities of blood quickly, with only a small volume outside the patient’s body at any one time, enabling most treatments to be performed in two to three hours.
Dr Cristina Blanco-Andujar is the CTO for MediSieve, where she leads its internal research development and contributes to clinical trials’ setup. Cristina became an SME Leader in 2018 and says: “The programme has helped me to know myself better as a leader. I have gained the skills and confidence to become a better manager, indeed, I would not have been able to face all the challenges of growing the company without its constant support.”
In 2020, MediSieve, found itself working on a number of different fronts. Although solutions are being developed for a broad range of medical conditions, including leukaemia and malaria, MediSieve’s current focus is on dysregulated immune responses or hyperinflammation. Dysregulated immune reactions, often called cytokine storms, are significant drivers of severity and mortality across a large number of diseases, including sepsis and viral infections such as COVID-19.
MediSieve is currently using its sepsis research to help tackle the high levels of inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL-6) in the blood of COVID-19 patients. With several UK grants totalling £3 million, MediSieve has pivoted its focus to accelerate the testing of its anti-IL-6 product. This could eventually be used to treat the symptoms of severe COVID-19 patients.
Belfast-based company Axial3D transforms CT and MRI scans into physical 3D printed models for surgeons to use in planning critical surgery in orthopaedics, cardiology and neurology. These patient-specific medical models take 24 to 48 hours to make, giving surgeons much greater insight into a patient than they would get from 2D scans. Surgeons using these models for complex operations say that they change pre-operative plans for half of patients, enabling time and money savings in most surgeries.
Niall Haslam is the CTO at Axial3D, responsible for the company’s research and development activities. Niall became an SME Leader in 2018 and credits the programme with helping to grow
his team. He says: “Engineers are used to solving problems. The Academy’s courses helped me take a step back from our research work and learn how to contribute to the company strategy in other ways. I have been able to do this both from a technical point of view, and financial too.”
Axial3D is expanding rapidly with a doubling of staff numbers in just two years as it has transitioned from startup to a scale-up company. It has been able to attract funding from Innovate UK to validate the use of its models in pre-operative planning. This has been especially useful in helping address surgical waiting lists caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Surgeons have found that they can save 62 minutes per case on average when using a 3D model to plan a procedure.
Niall says that the US healthcare market has recently become even more important to Axial3D. It has been involved in a number of collaborative projects there and is continuing to grow its presence and sales in the region.
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).