70 of the UK’s top technology entrepreneurs and business professionals have pledged to volunteer at least one day a month to mentor start-ups and growing SMEs through the Royal Academy of Engineering’s new Enterprise Hub, which launches on the 29th April.

Volunteer mentors are Fellows of the Academy, including Dr Mike Lynch, co-founder of Autonomy and founder of Invoke, Sir Robin Saxby, former Chief Executive and Chairman of ARM, and Sir David Payne, serial entrepreneur and Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton.

The Enterprise Hub isa new national resource taking'the best of the best' early stage companies and providing them with a long-term package of mentoring, training and bespoke support. It aims to bring about a step change in the success of UK based entrepreneurial technology businesses and the contribution that they make to UK economic growth, playing an important part in the Academy’s Engineering for Growth campaign launched earlier this year.

Fellows – many of whom have founded and led some of the UK’s most successful engineering businesses – give their time and expertise to Academy activities on a pro bono basis, making the Hub a unique proposition. To date, more than 70 Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering with directly relevant expertise have volunteered a total of 840 volunteer days per year. It is expected that this number will increase as awareness of the Hub grows.

Ian Shott, Chair of the Enterprise Committee at the Royal Academy of Engineering, said, “Working with a range of partners, our vision for the Hub is to seed a culture of success amongst the most ambitious and high potential technology-intensive SMEs in the UK. It will build their capabilities and provide them with essential connections to established financing and business clusters that offer access to finance and routes to market. Success will be evidenced by UK companies with global vision creating substantial wealth, jobs and associated social and societal benefits.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said, "The government is focused on making this the decade of the engineer. Programmes like this will go a long way towards helping us achieve this ambition.

"We have seen in so many sectors already the huge benefits for individuals and businesses of mentoring programmes. This stellar list of mentors – many of whom have founded and led some of the UK’s most successful engineering businesses – will ensure the next generation of talent keeps Britain at the forefront of science and innovation."

Iain Wilcock, Partner – UK and Irish Investments, Seventure Partners, said,“Businesses participating in the Enterprise Hub will be in a privileged position, in terms of both the support they receive and the recognition of their promise. For investors, knowing that a business has received money-can’t-buy mentoring from some of the UK’s top entrepreneurs will be an attractive prospect.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering

    As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers from across the engineering sectors for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. The Academy’s activities are driven by four strategic challenges:

    - Drive faster and more balanced economic growth
    - Foster better education and skills
    - Lead the profession
    - Promote engineering at the heart of society
  1. The Enterprise Hub was developed following consultation with over 100 individual engineering and business leaders and more than 20 organisations with an enterprise focus. It comprises four strands of activity:

    - Identifying, mentoring and developing high potential entrepreneurs with great propositions
    - Accelerating access to finance and routes to market for these enterprises
    - Celebrating successful UK-based enterprises, innovations and individuals
    - Delivering authoritative, independent policy advice to improve the UK climate for entrepreneurship and growth

    The Hub will build on existing activities such as the Academy’s Engineering Enterprise Fellowships, which provide £85k in seed funding and salary support, along with mentoring, training and networking opportunities, to enable entrepreneurial academic engineering researchers to spend a year focusing on starting a business. Five new Fellowships are being announced this week. The Hub will also feature the Academy’s MacRobert Award for UK engineering innovation and the ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs Award. New activities will be announced over the coming months.

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