Hub welcomes 11 new engineering innovators to its SME Leaders programme

16 Sep 2019

·        11 engineering innovators win up to £10,000 funding to support training and drive growth of their businesses

·        Next round of the SME Leaders programme opens for applications – due by 18 November 2019

SME Leaders induction

Innovators developing a biodegradable alternative to plastic and AI technology that identifies pre-cancerous growths are among the 11 new SME Leaders joining the Enterprise Hub this month to develop the skills they need to manage the challenges of leading and scaling up their growing companies.

SME Leaders images

The SME Leaders programme supports individuals working in engineering and technology companies with ambitious plans for growth. Successful applicants receive a bespoke package of funding and training to help them take their businesses to the next level. This includes leadership training courses, personal development coaching and mentoring from Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering, who have themselves run world-leading companies.

They will also have access to the meeting facilities and informal work space of the Enterprise Hub’s Taylor Centre in central London for mentoring, one to one coaching, and private business meetings. Since 2013, the Enterprise Hub has supported over 100 entrepreneurs and SMEs, helping to develop ideas into investable, high-growth companies.

SME Leaders alumni have achieved excellent results. Simon Thomas from Paragraf raised a hub record £12.8 million for his graphene-based technology startup and Charlie Guy of LettUs Grow won the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, receiving a total of £30,000 to help scale his indoor farming business.

Peter Schrammel, CTO of Diffblue and an alumnus of the programme, said:

“The SME Leaders programme has helped me to gain a more holistic view on the development of my company. Thanks to the excellent training and networking opportunities I have become more comfortable in dealing with the non-technical challenges of leading a company.”

Find out more about our newest SME Leaders:

Jessi Baker, CEO and Founder, Provenance

Provenance uses blockchain technology to help brands and retailers build customer trust through greater transparency. Ethical spending grew by 3.2% to £81.3 billion in 2016. With openness and trust becoming key drivers to a brand’s success, Provenance leads the transparency movement with a software platform that helps brands to promote conscious, low-impact consumption. It achieves this by making it easier for a company to provide accessible, trustworthy information about the origin, journey and impact of its products. Supported by the SME Leaders programme, CEO and Founder, Jessi Baker is leading a team that is rapidly expanding to meet the demands of this emerging market.

Thomas Fleming, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Arctoris

Arctoris’s fully automated experiments-as-a-service accelerates progress towards new discoveries in cancer research. Current data generation methods in cellular and molecular biology are inefficient and yield poor quality data. Powered by robotic experimentation, Arctoris’s cloud-based platform enables efficient data generation with a high degree of consistency, precision and reliability using just a laptop and internet connection.  This makes it easier for researchers and biotech entrepreneurs to generate, analyse and visualise data.

Supported by the SME Leaders programme, Tom is responsible for overseeing daily operations and directing strategy and development of new Arctoris technologies. Training will help as Tom leads Arctoris in scaling effectively and transitioning from small-team strategies to large-scale approaches for global distribution.

Pierre Paslier, co-CEO, and Lise Honsinger, Chief Financial Officer and Head of Commercial, Notpla

50% of plastic packaging is used once and thrown away and estimates suggest that plastics can take several centuries to decompose. Notpla is a plastic alternative, made from plants and brown seaweed, that biodegrades naturally in 4-6 weeks. This sustainable material can reduce both plastic waste and carbon impact as it has 85% less associated carbon emissions than equivalent plastic packaging. The company’s first product, Ooho, is an edible, biodegradable packaging solution used for beverages and sauces that is fast gaining commercial traction.

With a rapidly expanding team, Chief Financial Officer Lise Honsinger aims to use support from the SME Leaders programme to establish a company culture that promotes growth as Notpla enters new global markets. Co-CEO Pierre Paslier is using training and mentoring through the SME Leaders programme to help him develop a strategy to support industrialisation, increasing sales and new product development.

Fern Kelly, Director of Innovation, Footfalls & Heartbeats

Footfalls and Heartbeats has developed a technology that integrates sensing systems into fabrics to create intelligent wearables that are comfortable and durable. One of the startup’s first products is a pressure-responsive bandage for treating venous leg ulcers. Compression therapy is the recommended treatment but its effectiveness is limited by lack of awareness and patient discomfort. Footfall and Heartbeats’ solution is a customised bandage with embedded sensors for responsive, real-time monitoring to ensure the correct pressure is applied during compression therapy. Supported by the SME Leaders programme, Director of Innovation Fern Kelly is strengthening her leadership skills to help with negotiating the commercial partnerships needed to bring Footfalls and Heartbeats’ first products to market.

Matthew Khoory, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder, mOm

The World Health Organization estimates that there are 15 million premature births each year and preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death in children under the age of five. Ensuring a baby is kept warm can help prevent neonatal fatalities. Cost-effective, electronically controlled, inflatable incubators, created by mOm, can provide an accessible solution in places that need it. Chief Operating Officer and co-founder Matthew Khoory is leading strategy and business development as mOm finalises the development and testing of its product. Support from the SME Leaders programme, will help Matthew to strengthen his management skills as he leads an expanding team and builds a network of partnerships to further promote the company’s growth.

Giorgia Longobardi, CEO, Cambridge GaN Devices:

Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD) develops high-performance Gallium Nitride (GaN) power electronic devices as a more efficient alternative to silicon-based and existing GaN devices. GaN’s physical properties allow it to operate at higher frequencies than silicon, resulting in circuits that are smaller, faster and more efficient. CGD overcomes the stability issues associated with current GaN devices by using a novel patented transistor, allowing customers to leverage the benefits of GaN in a wider range of applications. The University of Cambridge spinout was co-founded by CGD CEO Giorgia Longobardi. The SME Leader manages a rapidly growing team focused on bringing CGD’s energy-efficient technology to the GaN power device market, which is valued at £400 million.

Jordan McRae, Founder, Mobilus Labs:

Mobilus Labs is transforming voice communication with a wearable, hands-free, ear-free voice platform that combines vocal recognition with a two-way bone conduction technology to isolate and capture voice and transmit it directly to the inner ear. Effective in extreme and noisy environments, the platform allows teams of any size to communicate at any distance. This makes it ideal for use in industries such as construction, mixed reality and emergency services. SME Leader Jordan McRae will use support from the programme to deliver his vision to scale the company and build on traction in the construction sector, where the cost of poor communication is estimated at £16 billion each year.

Peter Mountney, CEO, Odin Vision:

Patients showing signs of bowel cancer may have a colonoscopy to inspect tissue for small growths called polyps, some of which can develop into cancer. These can be challenging for clinicians to detect and diagnose with some studies suggesting that over 20% of polyps can be missed. Odin Vision has developed an AI driven technology that uses deep-learning algorithms to identify polyps in real-time. It helps doctors to make effective diagnoses at the earliest stage possible, helping to reduce the incidence of bowel cancer and improve patient outcomes. With the technology progressing through clinical trials, Peter will use training and mentoring through the SME Leaders programme to get timely support at a time of rapid growth.

Samantha Payne, Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder, Open Bionics:

Open Bionics have created the Hero Arm, an affordable, 3D- printed, multi-grip bionic hand. Lightweight and durable, the Hero Arm is an empowering, medically-approved, myoelectric prosthesis for below elbow amputee adults and children aged eight and above. The award-winning technology is lightweight, robust and embedded with special sensors that intuitively detect muscle movement so that it can move with life-like precision. COO and co-founder Samantha Payne leads Open Bionic’s product design, branding, communications and customer service. Supported by the SME Leaders programme, Samantha will use structured training to strengthen her leadership and management skills to help with gaining a deeper understanding of the company’s commercial offering as it scales internationally and expands into new markets.

Tim Ramsdale, CEO, Agile Analog:

As semiconductor systems and circuit requirements grow in complexity to meet digital demands, more efficient and effective analogue solutions are needed. Current analogue design methods are old and manually-intensive methods often produce components that are restricted in use, inefficient and costly to change. Agile Analog aims to change this by using artificial intelligence to automate the design and delivery of customised components that match customer’s specific requirements while driving efficiency in both power consumption and cost. Supported by the SME Leaders programme, CEO Tim Ramsdale aims to strengthen his skills in sales and business development to help the company grow and target a $2 billion market in analogue intellectual property design.

To find out more about the SME Leaders programme and to apply, please visit:




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