10 innovators identified as future leaders by the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub

25 Mar 2019

sme leaders

We’re delighted to announce the newest cohort of engineering innovators to join the SME Leaders programme. From underwater electronics, to the next generation of chemotherapy, these ten individuals are working on some of today’s most pressing societal and economic issues.

Applications are once again open. To find out more about the programme and to apply, please visit our page here.

Now in its third year, the programme awards individuals working in engineering and technology companies with ambitious plans for growth a bespoke package of support to help them take their business to the next level. 

Designed to develop the skills needed to manage the challenges of scaling up, awardees receive funding for self-selected leadership training courses, personal development coaching and mentoring from the Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship, which is made up of the UK’s leading engineers.

sme leaders

Past participants in the programme include David Tuch from Lightpoint Medical, who went on to raise £5 million in investment, and Claire Fenwick from nuron who has secured contracts with two major water companies. 

In addition, awardees will also join the growing network of Hub Members, a group of over 100 exceptional entrepreneurs, and will benefit from events, workshops, investor introductions and peer-to-peer learning.

sme leadersChristoph Birkl, CEO of Brill Power and an alumnus of the programme, said: “The SME Leaders Programme was the perfect support mechanism for us to enable professional development, grow our network and tap into some of the country's best engineering and business brains.”

Find out more about our awardees:

Alex Appelbe, CEO and Co-Founder, Metis Labs
Metis Labs' mission is to enable manufacturing engineers to improve the resource efficiency of their factories through intelligent software tools. Its first product, Kelvin, learns the unique characteristics of a wide range of manufacturing processes by continuously monitoring plant data and correlating how each variable affects performance. This increases the profitability of factories and processing plants by warning before inefficiencies occur and instantaneously recommending improvements.

Alex Appelbe, Co-Founder and CEO, started Metis Labs to address specific challenges that he faced during a decade working in the manufacturing sector. Alex will use the SME Leaders Programme to help him refine his leadership, negotiation and financial skills to support a rapidly growing business.

Mohammed Belal, Business Development Director and Co-Founder, MIRICO
MIRICO’s new laser sensing technology allows real-time, accurate gas sensing. Its solutions measure a range of gases, providing the tools to better quantify emissions, enhance analytics in industrial operations and improve safety across facilities through reliable detection of harmful molecules. MIRICO’s primary product platform can remotely track emissions of gases such as methane, a potent greenhouse gas that causes more than $2 billion in lost revenue due to product loss from accidental emissions.

Mohammed Belal, Co-Founder, leads business development and draws on support from the SME Leaders Programme as he builds skills for leading a strong sales team, negotiating new business partnerships and strategically mapping the market for new products and ventures to help MIRICO’s continued growth.

Dr Liucheng Guo, Chief Technical Officer and Co-Founder, TG0
TG0 has developed a new technology for making interactive 3D controls that are ergonomic, intuitive and engaging. TG0’s platform technology is driven by artificial intelligence algorithms and advanced signal processing to accurately detect variations in touch across a single flexible surface. Its material can easily sense pressure, location, speed, direction and movement. TG0’s solutions replace complicated networks of electronic sensors with one material that can be used in many applications including tactile gaming controls, car dashboard controls and ergonomic computer accessories such as keyboards.

Supported by the SME Leaders Programme, Liucheng’s vision is to increase the company’s customer base while leading a rapidly growing software and hardware team as TG0 expands its product portfolio.

James Howarth, Engineering Director, Cambridge Mechatronics Ltd
Actuators are miniature motors that are typically responsible for moving a system. Cambridge Mechatronics Ltd’s (CML) actuators deliver high force in a small size and enable positioning to the accuracy of the wavelength of light. CML’s actuators contain shape memory alloy (SMA) material, which can be controlled by software algorithms to achieve sub-micron accuracy. CML's licensees have shipped millions of SMA-based camera actuators into smartphones, wearables and drones. The company is developing technology for further applications in haptics, facial recognition and augmented reality.

James Howarth, Engineering Director, has a key role in developing the technology and supporting the company as it expands into new areas.

Paul Jackson, Operations Manager, Femtogenix
Femtogenix is an established drug discovery start-up that specialises in the development of payloads - one of three key components in a group of targeted chemotherapies known as antibody-drug conjugates. Payloads are molecules that are toxic to living cells and kill cancer cells. When combined with antibodies to target cancer cells, and a linker to bring all these molecules together, it creates a highly targeted cancer treatment that is less likely to cause side effects than current chemotherapy. Femtogenix’s discovery platform uses computational chemistry and state-of-the-art synthetic chemistry methodologies to design and synthesise payload molecules that can bind to DNA and effectively kill cancer cells at low concentrations.

Paul Jackson, Operations Manager, is supported by the SME Leaders Programme as he helps define Femtogenix’s scientific and commercial strategy for growth.

Steve McNamara, Physics Programme Manager, Tokamak Energy
Fusion, the energy source that powers the sun and stars, could also provide a clean, safe and abundant energy source on Earth. Energy can be generated by using fusion reactions produce heat for electricity generation. Tokamak Energy’s mission is to accelerate the development and commercialisation of fusion power by combining two emerging technologies: spherical tokamaks (a device in which controlled fusion can take place) and magnets made from high temperature superconductors. These two technologies will create a compact and efficient fusion power plant.

As part of the leadership team, Steven McNamara is responsible for Tokamak Energy’s scientific development strategy. This includes planning for accelerated growth as the company demonstrates the viability of its approach with its latest tokamak.

Jonathan Quinn, Head of Software and Games, Reach Robotics
Reach Robotics has developed MekaMon, a unique gaming robot that is transforming consumer robotics and creating new opportunities in education and entertainment. MekaMon engages users with lifelike, expressive movements and augmented reality.

Jonathan Quinn, Head of Software and Games, has a central role in delivering the company’s vision to develop technology that inspires, entertains and educates. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme, Jonathan is focused on optimising development processes and steering the development of high-quality products. This includes developing educational and entertainment software that will help Reach Robotics target several intersecting markets, including the educational and consumer robotics markets that are currently valued at $1.2 billion and $10 billion respectively.

James Roberts, CEO and Co-Founder, mOm Incubators Ltd
The World Health Organization estimates that there are 15 million premature births each year, and up to one million preventable neonatal deaths. Ensuring that babies are kept warm can help to preventing neonatal fatalities. mOm’s incubators are compact, cost-effective and inflatable so can be used in environments where conventional incubators are not available.

James Roberts, Co-Founder and CEO, led the strategic development of the robust but lightweight incubators in close collaboration with clinical specialists. The resulting incubator provides a level of thermoregulation that meets the standards set for conventional incubators at a fraction of the cost. Supported by the SME Leaders Programme, James is aiming to strengthen his strategic leadership skills to help the award-winning startup increase access to healthcare through its affordable technology.

Oluwaseyi Sosanya, CEO and Co-Founder, Gravity Sketch
A new software platform developed by Gravity Sketch pushes boundaries in design by allowing people to craft digital 3D content using gesture and touch without having to use complex computer-aided design programs. Gravity Sketch uses augmented reality, virtual reality and touch technologies to create a fast, intuitive solution for developing 3D models and concepts. Its tools can be seamlessly integrated into real-world engineering workflows, helping design teams to reduce the time spent on initial design processes by up to 60%. Launched online in 2017, Gravity Sketch sells to customers in industries including automotive and furniture design.

Oluwaseyi Sosanya, Co-Founder and CEO, has a vision to strategically build the company’s customer base while supporting a rapidly growing team.

Fhon Supmak, Technical and Sales Director, Oxford Vision and Sensor Technology(OVST)
University of Oxford spin out OVST specialises in the design of 2D and 3D machine vision systems. These are transforming industrial manufacturing processes by allowing robots to recognise and identify objects for automatic operation. OVST works closely with the automotive industry where high precision is essential at every stage assembly. Its vision systems combine sophisticated software with innovative sensing technologies for robot guidance. Customers including Ford and Jaguar Land Rover use OVST’s solution to reduce costs through automation and improve quality control by ensuring accurate results in production.

Fhon Supmak leads OVST’s commercial and technical strategy and aims to build financial and entrepreneurial skills to help guide OVST’s expansion into new international markets.


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