Business Weekly | By Tony Quested 13 Oct 2023
Power players behind the new Innovate Cambridge initiative have unveiled a growth strategy with supremely achievable targets that they believe will elevate the city to unprecedented success on the world stage.
They talked the talk as 400 stakeholders attended the inaugural Innovate Cambridge Summit midweek but are determined to now walk the walk.
By 2035, the partners believe they can log a raft of achievements for the city’s innovation ecosystem, fired by University of Cambridge brainpower and fuelled by cash generative ideas geared to clean and sustainable growth.
The initial targets in the University of Cambridge, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Cambridge Enterprise blueprint include:-
Creation of 1,500 more active companies, more top researchers and 40 new multinational corporations with an associated jobs boom
Achievement of £10 billion total annual GVA
Creation of 10 million sq ft of new lab space
Establishment of 50+ locally applied innovation projects plus 10 major cross-city collaborations with like-minded UK players
A bonus payback of £100m reinvested in the community
2,000 more apprenticeships every year
Topped off by the creation of the most equal innovation ecosystem in the UK with 90 per cent of organisations achieving climate targets along the way.
Generating an innovation ecosystem “firing on all cylinders” is the most potent, joined up strategy ever unveiled for Cambridge – or any other UK centre for that matter. It also renders talk by the Government of creating a second Silicon Valley in the UK exactly that; talk.
A core element of effecting the strategy involves securing more translational funding to underpin the initiative and pull together the various strands to ensure creation of one effective tech tapestry made to last.
Securing more such finance will de-risk development of the core Intellectual Property and increase access to venture capital – specifically seed capital, growth capital and working across the UK to increase access to late stage funding.
Developing a key enabling innovation infrastructure including shared laboratories, a central city innovation hub with convening power and increased lab space development is another core vision.
Innovate Cambridge plans to transition all of this with a ‘space’ to ‘place’ agenda, ensuring that all aspects are mindful of the needs of both the communities working in the facilities and the local people living alongside them.
The founders want to ensure that the innovation ecosystem provides value and impact for the local community and increases awareness of benefits such as improved health and social care from world leading life sciences research.
They envisage AI helping to deliver improved traffic management, optimised energy use or improved agricultural outcomes. And they want to encourage the establishment of climate units which monitor sustainability, agreeing decarbonisation pathways and launching challenges aligned to practices within their businesses.
Another key objective is the creation of a social impact fund to build an innovative approach to tackling inequality in Greater Cambridge, especially around education, social mobility, health and life expectancy and homelessness.
Michael Anstey, Partner at Cambridge Innovation Capital, commented: “Innovation is critical to local, national and global prosperity and central to the wider UK growth agenda and Cambridge remains the most intensive science and technological cluster in the world.
“It is an ecosystem where companies have the potential to go from lab to market quicker than anywhere else. We excel in life sciences, DeepTech, and interdisciplinary research and the city is home to a blend of startups and global leaders.
“The fact that so many of those stakeholders and businesses have now come up with an inclusive, forward-looking plan to ensure the city continues to innovate, compete, and deliver impact on a global scale, fills me with enormous pride.”
Diarmuid O’Brien, Chief Executive of Cambridge Enterprise adds: “This strategy represents a pivotal moment for the innovation ecosystem in Cambridge.
“The collaboration of more than 200 organisations has yielded a strategic roadmap that provides a shared vision for Cambridge as a global innovation hub.
“This initiative, rooted in inclusivity and sustainability, will drive positive economic and social impacts for the local community. Cambridge Enterprise is proud to be part of this ambitious endeavour, and we look forward to fostering groundbreaking discoveries and translating them into world-changing businesses.”