November 2023 marked ten years of DefProc as a limited company. To celebrate, we’re looking back at our key achievements, milestones and journey from 2013 to 2023. From having an employee headcount of one to building an award-winning business with a portfolio of national clients, take a look at our highlights over the past decade and how we envision our future.

Company’s inception

Our story began in 2013 with our co-founder, Patrick Fenner, working out of a spare room without equipment or investment. At the time, Patrick was working on a project called Atomic Duck: a human-powered vehicle that you could purchase as a ‘build it yourself’ kit and assemble at home. The aim was to provide an affordable and accessible way to travel in all weather conditions compared to a bike.

Atomic Duck logo

What started as a great idea quickly became an uphill struggle. Patrick knew little about the complexities of the manufacturing process and discovered that it wasn’t possible to source a small run of custom parts. Ultimately, this hindered the journey from proof of concept to a finished manufactured product. At this point, Patrick realised he would have to manufacture the velomobile.

To do this, Patrick headed to DoES Liverpool to learn more about laser cutting, preparing and designing files to print, and the electronics to go inside the velomobile. Patrick and his wife, Jen, met other people at DoES who also had ideas of what they wanted to create but didn’t have the technical expertise to get past the initial ideas stage. Being in this maker space helped Patrick and Jen understand the needs of people who want to create products. Realising a gap in the market for this kind of service, Patrick began making things for other people to achieve their goals and turn their ideas into reality.

In 2013, we became a limited company so Patrick and Jen could expand the business. DefProc left DoES Liverpool in 2018 and moved to Sensor City. For the first time, we had our own space and equipment. DefProc quickly grew as we attracted larger clients, hired additional staff and scaled our services. Two years later, we moved to Liverpool Science Park in the heart of the city’s knowledge quarter,  where we remain today!

Major milestones and achievements

Environment Agency

DefProc’s first national project came about in 2015. While working as Technician-in-Residence at DoES, Patrick taught beginner courses on laser cutting, 3D printing and Arduino microcontroller development. This led to contact with the Environment Agency, who asked if DefProc could help them with a project.

We developed an absolute beginner Arduino course specifically for the Environment Agency. The course explored how to utilise microcontrollers to create new devices that collect and display data in a monitorable format. The Environment Agency wanted its staff to understand the technology they were working with so they could design devices internally. This knowledge would also benefit decision-making to identify the technology best suited for a specific environment. We also created a bespoke device and database for staff to use throughout their training and further develop their learning.

Arduino-compatible shield developed as part of the Environment Agency microcontrollers course.

This was a revolutionary approach to innovation for the Environment Agency and was part of their continued effort to gain better insight into the environment. The course helped support staff understand what data could be collected, how to manage it efficiently, and how to digitise their processes. Patrick delivered his training to 48 members of staff located across Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Exeter, Ipswich, London, Romsey and Newcastle.

Our collaboration involved another project, EaMU, to research and develop river-level sensors to deploy in remote locations. Part of this required us to investigate various connectivity and power options, including NB-IoT, which was not commercially available. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about new and emerging technologies and test them in a real-world environment.


As our first national project, it was a significant part of our journey to becoming a trusted innovation partner. We continue to work with the Environment Agency’s National Fisheries Service to support them with digitising their fish counting processes using machine learning and computer vision.

Push to Talk

One of our favourite projects is Push to Talk. A service designed to help alleviate loneliness, we came up with the idea during a Liverpool City Council Hack Day. Isolation and loneliness are massive issues for the social care sector. A service was needed to reduce the pressure on both the NHS and those struggling with loneliness. At the core of Push to Talk is accessibility: it safely connects two people for a chat from the comfort of their homes without needing a WiFi connection. The only requirement is a landline or mobile and the Push to Talk button or app. It’s easy to use and capable of working as a stand-alone service or alongside other befriending services.

Jen and Patrick in 2020 with our initial Push to Talk buttons.

As part of the Push to Talk project, DefProc partnered with several organisations whose work focuses on reducing social inequalities. The Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care Testbed had a significant part in our success with Push to Talk. The Testbed was part of the DCMS 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, the first 5G-supported health trial in Europe, measuring the health and social care benefits of 5G technology in a digitally deprived neighbourhood. DefProc became a part of the Liverpool 5G Consortium, allowing us to trial Push to Talk in Liverpool’s Kensington area. Taking Push to Talk from an idea to a product in someone’s home was a crucial moment for us.

Our current Push to Talk button with updated branding.

Push to Talk also provided a steep learning curve. We had no prior experience of being part of a Consortium or the complexities of working with local authorities. Push to Talk gave us a much-needed insight into how tricky these projects can be. As a result, we’ve been able to advise and implement our knowledge into work for other clients.


Another major milestone for us was winning an Innovate UK grant in 2022 for our SmUPS (Smart Uninterruptible Power Supply) device. Working with the Liverpool 5G Create Connecting Health and Social Care project, Telet Research, Docobo, Liverpool City Council and the local NHS, we have created a device that will support energy security for the deployment of virtual beds in the UK. SmUPS addresses the service vulnerability around the electrical supply for remote healthcare network resilience in service users’ homes. It will supply up to 18 hours of power if there’s an outage and inform healthcare staff of the situation.

3D render of the SmUPS box.

SmUPS has a great amount of potential. We’ve been recognised at the Liverpool Chamber Innovation in Business Awards for SmUPS as a finalist for an ‘Innovative Product or Service’, and again as a finalist for The Engineer Collaborate to Innovative Healthcare & Medical Award. As the telehealth industry evolves, SmUPS will become a pivotal part of reliable, accessible and inclusive digital health services.


We’ve worked across various industries, but one of our most interesting collaborations has been in the hydrogen sector.

In 2021, we won an EIC bid to develop the first domestic hydrogen sensor, H2Go, for Northern Gas Networks and Wales & West Utilities. Unlike current hydrogen sensors, which are expensive and built for industrial use, H2Go had to be suitable for homes. The sensor works by measuring the levels of gases cross-sensitive to hydrogen, and the device itself looks and functions like the millions of carbon monoxide detectors already in our homes. Our hard work saw us win the Environmental Award at the Liverpool City Region Culture & Creativity Awards earlier this year. In the future, H2Go will be the basis for manufactured domestic hydrogen sensors, allowing people to embrace green energy safely.

Jen and Patrick at the LCR Culture & Creativity Awards.

The success of H2Go led to another collaboration with Northern Gas Networks for our current Smart Gas Pressure Sensor project. The sensor fills the expected market need for monitoring supply pressure and low-pressure shut-off status to significantly reduce the disruption to homes if the gas supply is lost. The operation of this device will include maximising the stability of introducing hydrogen to the network, reducing the need for engineer callouts and minimising disruption to properties.

The Smart Gas Pressure Sensor proof of concept.

We saw so many positive reactions to the announcement of the Smart Gas project. In September, Patrick was a keynote speaker at The Things Conference in Amsterdam. To learn more about how the Smart Gas device uses LoRaWAN for connectivity, watch the keynote below.


Alongside this fantastic opportunity to showcase our work, DefProc was also featured in The Engineer and Hydrogen Industry Leaders. This was a personal highlight for Patrick, who has been a long-time reader of The Engineer.


Community Impact

Our roots are firmly set in the maker community. A lot of our early projects feature creative collaborations with small businesses, artists and makers across Liverpool.

Maker Faires & MakeFests

If you’ve attended MakeFest in Liverpool over the last few years, you’ve probably seen us there with Made Invaders. However, Patrick and Jen have been sharing their fun projects at maker events for many years. In 2014, Patrick took his Enchanted Toys train set to DoES Liverpool’s Maker Faire. This project added more functionality to the toys and randomised inputs to give the items extra personality, allowing them to ‘play back’ rather than just being ‘played with’.  

In 2015, we took our first iteration of Made Invaders to Oggcamp, a technology-based community event celebrating free and open-source software, hardware hacking, digital rights, and all aspects of collaborative culture. While it may sound very techy, it’s suitable for the whole family. It’s a fantastic community event for those interested in sharing knowledge on their passions and interests. While Patrick provided the entertainment via Made Invaders, Jen was involved with planning the event and creating the merch. Events like these are incredibly important for keeping STEM/STEAM accessible to all, so we loved getting involved! 

Made Invaders at Oggcamp 2015.

Our current iteration of Made Invaders debuted in 2016 at Maker Faire in Newcastle. Since then, we’ve taken it to events such as Liverpool MakeFest and most recently, Homebaked CLT’s Halloween Fair in Anfield.

Artist collaborations

Over the years, we’ve worked with local artist Andrew Small on some of his brilliant projects. These include Footfall, an interactive, data-fed installation for Bruntwood’s 111 Piccadilly building, Palimpest, a non-contact, visual and audio interactive display for East Street Arts/Art Hotel in Leeds, and Egg Untitled for Intu Potteries Shopping Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. Art and engineering are very closely linked, and having the opportunity to explore and learn more about our engineering/artistic capabilities with Andrew Small taught us a tremendous amount.

Some of our other highlights include:

  • DefProc joining forces with Krate&Co to laser engrave limited edition shoeboxes for a collaboration between Copenhagen-based female sneaker store Naked and sportswear brand Asics.
  • Breath of Air Kites interactive installation by Jen and Patrick, as part of an annual exhibition in conjunction with the Re-View Textile Artist group in Birkenhead Park Visitor Centre. The theme Breath of Air called for artists to create works inspired by the feeling of being in open spaces and outdoor landscapes.
  • Culture Liverpool’s Visible Virals project, where we teamed up with Apt Creative and Focal Studios to create a projection-mapped extravaganza on the Museum of Liverpool to bring to life the Liverpool City Council’s Public Health Annual Report, which measured the effect of COVID-19 on the community.  
  • Collaborating (again) with Focal Studios to create LUX, an interactive, non-contact project-mapped game that was showcased at LightNight in Liverpool and Leeds

Light Night Leeds, 2022.

Looking ahead

As we look towards the future, our vision is to become a long-term innovation partner for bigger businesses. We see ourselves at the forefront of helping people adopt technology on a large scale. Although we’ve been working with IoT and sensors to make things ‘smart’ for ten years, this is still a relatively new area for many companies. One of the barriers for businesses is scaling things from small to large. Our extensive experience in dealing with this sort of technology over the last decade means we can step in and share our expertise with clients, identifying the best solution for their needs.

We’d also love to see the commercialisation of products like SmUPS and our Smart Gas Pressure Sensor. SmUPS offers the potential to branch into sectors such as health and social care, commercial B2B, defence and disaster response. As we expand our business, we would also like to offer services to an international market. There’s a great deal of innovation happening in industries like hydrogen, and with our expertise, we are a valuable partner.

As we grow, we will continue our involvement in tech for good projects that promote inclusive innovation for all. Developing products that are accessible to everyone and creating a better, fairer society is at the core of DefProc’s values.

Thanks for your support!

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been part of DefProc’s journey. As a small company, your support means so much to us. To former and current clients, members of our team past and present, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Form, Gather and LCR’s Growth Platform, thank you!  We can’t wait to see what the next ten years holds for us.

Have an anecdote you’d love to share with us? Connect with Patrick and Jen on LinkedIn and drop them a message! 

To stay up to date on all things DefProc, give our company page a follow on LinkedIn.