It’s hard to believe that a little over three years ago there was no Enterprise Hub.
But it really was as recently as 2013 when the Royal Academy of Engineering launched the project with a small, committed team. Since then we’ve seen almost 60 Members join the Hub – a virtual community that provides mentoring, funding and support to entrepreneurs turning their engineering innovations into viable businesses.
‘Virtual’, that is, until now.
With the opening of the new Taylor Centre within the Academy, we’re providing Hub Members with a brand new place to meet, work, and grow their businesses. State-of-the-art IT and AV, comfortable well-furnished rooms of all sizes, and full connectivity and conferencing facilities provide a professional space for Hub Members and their mentors to develop their ideas, meet investors, and take their work to the next stage.
This is the last piece in the puzzle of transforming Prince Philip House, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s home since 2007, into a national Forum for Engineering. Kicked off with a donation from the distinguished inventor and entrepreneur Dr John C Taylor OBE FREng, for whom the Hub’s new home is named, the Academy has been able to completely transform its lower ground floor space into this new, dedicated home for the Hub. We’re also grateful for the very generous support of the late Geoffrey Argent FREng and the Wolfson Foundation; and also to Toshiba UK for their donation of equipment.
It’s a landmark moment in the short history of the Hub. Since it was founded we’ve seen 45 start-ups emerge from the engineers we’ve supported, generating 144 jobs between them and going on to raise over £30 million in follow-on funding. The UK is full of such innovative engineers with the ideas and prototypes for tomorrow’s technology in their heads, labs and sketchbooks – and we’re seeing a growing demand from them to access the Hub’s unique support.
That support includes grant funding, intensive business training, access to further investment opportunities, invitations to exclusive networking events, and – uniquely - offers one-on-one mentoring with Academy Fellows, who between them have years of engineering and business experience. A new space means new capacity for Hub Members and our growing family of Hub alumni to meet and share ideas, building a community that really represents excellence across every field of engineering and can bring together entrepreneurs at every stage of setting up their business. Nowhere else can provide such access.
Of course, with Hub Members based all around the country, support by email and phone and in meetings elsewhere will continue. But the new space, with its full suite of technology, will provide new opportunities for workshops, webinars and remote working, too.
The Hub exists to give its innovative Members a boost in the world of business, to help them transform their research into products. A new venue in which Members can hot-desk, attend events and receive training will surely mark a step-change in the already fantastic results we’re seen – bringing more research outputs to market, seeing more start-ups achieve success, and more high-value jobs secured. By providing a physical space, together with funding and mentoring support, the Academy is leading the way in boosting the country’s capacity for engineering innovation.
So, what new partnerships, technologies and innovations will result from our new Taylor Centre? We’ll be fully operational in early February 2017, so it won’t be too long until we start to find out. In the meantime, please do <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">get in touch</a> if you’d like to book a tour – the space is nothing without the people who fill it, and the transformation really has to be seen to be believed (a few photographs are included below). Until then, thanks for your continued interest and support – I’m excited to see what happens in the next chapter in the Hub’s story.
-- Ian Shott CBE FREng, Chair of the RAEng Enterprise Committee