An initiative looking to promote innovation in the Cambridge tech ecosystem has received over 100 charter signatures from the likes of Arm, Microsoft and AstraZeneca.
Innovate Cambridge was launched in September by Cambridge Enterprise, Cambridge Innovation Capital and the University of Cambridge to promote the city on the global stage.
It has appointed CogX co-founder and UK Government advisor Tabitha Goldstaub as executive director. Innovate Cambridge has also appointed Lord David Willetts, who served as minister for university and science and sits on the board of Cambridge-based Darktrace, as chair of its steering committee.
Diarmuid O’Brien, CEO of Cambridge Enterprise and co-founder of Innovate Cambridge, told UKTN that the initiative is “trying to find a way to accelerate how quickly Cambridge could deliver impact globally” and find new opportunities to boost its tech standing.
Over 100 organisations have already signed up to Innovate Cambridge’s charter, which commits members to promote the initiative, provide leadership and shape the group’s direction over the next decade.
“Cambridge needs to compete with other ecosystems for talent, capital, quality of life and innovation resources and we must ensure our proposition remains both compelling and differentiated,” the charter states.
In addition to Arm, Microsoft and AstraZeneca, the charter has attracted signatures from local government, two Cambridge universities, investors, infrastructure operators, accelerators and incubators.
“This is a very inclusive group that brings together all of the actors needed to move the needle for the Cambridge ecosystem,” added O’Brien.
Innovate Cambridge to build on tech foundations
Cambridge, which has earned the nickname Silicon Fen, is home to many high-tech and life science businesses. Among them are chip designer Arm, fabless semiconductor spinout Cambridge GaN Devices and graphene startup Paragraf.
“We don’t want a city or an area with those that have and those that don’t have, we want the entire Cambridge ecosystem to benefit from the impact that’s been born here,” said Michael Anstey, partner at Cambridge Innovation Capital and co-founder of Innovate Cambridge.
Now the plan is for Innovate Cambridge to bring all the businesses together to “roadmap” the ambition and direction of the Cambridge area. “There’s been agreement around that it’s about impact, economic growth and improved social inclusion,” added O’Brien.
Among the “obvious” areas that need to be addressed are attracting and keeping the necessary talent, bringing in more capital and developing opportunities in Cambridge and nearby.
The charter outlines 10 areas in total that Innovate Cambridge wish to address and will be looked at in the next sixth months, with the Boston Consulting Group creating a vision for the area.
Signing the initiative’s charter does not currently come with a specific set of requirements, but will signatories will consider the best intentions for the area and champion Cambridge to the government.
“We’re going to get all of the key actors in a room on a regular basis over the next period to dream ambitiously for Cambridge,” said O’Brien.
Once a concrete direction has been decided for Innovate Cambridge, which should be decided in the next 12 months, signatories will ramp up their own actions of support.
“Whatever we do should be bulk connected to London and elevate both jurisdictions,” continued O’Brien. “But I think there’s a Cambridge story that can be told which is separate to London and needs to be framed.”