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Cambridge City Council

Summit brings fresh impetus for city innovation and sharing of wealth, expertise and insights

16 October 2023

A SHARED strategy, vision and ambition for innovation in Greater Cambridge was the topic of discussion at a meeting of the city’s civic, business and academic leaders last week.

The Innovate Cambridge Summit held at Cambridge City Council’s Guildhall HQ discussed ways of working to maximise the impact the city’s innovation ecosystem can have, and to ensure everyone in the region benefits.

The summit heard that Cambridge has been global innovation hub over the last 30 years, with more than 5,500 knowledge-intensive businesses generating revenues exceeding £20bn annually. International benchmarking indicates that Cambridge can do more to enhance its position in the global innovation landscape and its innovation ecosystem has a generational opportunity to maximise economic and social return.

This new home-grown innovation strategy, which has had input from 200 organisations including Cambridge Enterprise, the University of Cambridge, Cambridge Innovation Capital, AstraZeneca, Microsoft, ARM, Darktrace, Cambridge City Council, Cambridge County Council and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, will propel the innovation ecosystem towards a ground-breaking future.

Robert Pollock, Chief Executive of Cambridge City Council, said: “The city council has an important placemaking and leadership role for the whole city. We want Cambridge to be an even better place to live, work and study, and ensure the city maintains its status as a global innovation hub.

“Cambridge also has significant challenges around health inequalities, housing affordability, and life changes for disadvantaged young people. That’s why it's vital for successful businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs that have benefited from the unique, nurturing, innovation environment in Cambridge, to give back to the city in a more tangible way.”

Earlier this month, Innovate Cambridge announced a progressive new partnership between the innovation clusters in Cambridge and Manchester which aims to boost investment in both cities and across the UK.

The link-up will draw on the strengths of both cities to help them accelerate the scale-up of businesses and create new local jobs in sectors critical to the UK's future prosperity.

Cllr Mike Davey, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said, “Innovation is at the heart of the city’s success and by working together in the city and with partners in Manchester we will make the most of every opportunity before us.

“The partnership with Manchester will lead to new ideas, jobs, and enable ground-breaking discoveries to be scaled-up in the North West. Here in Cambridge we are excited to put inclusive innovation at the heart of what we are trying to achieve locally and for the UK economy.”

Cllr Davey added: “However, I am acutely aware that we face significant challenges to be more inclusive and sustainable. Cambridge is one of the wealthiest cities in UK and has a world leading innovation cluster and yet we face inequalities in health, housing and young people’s life chances.

“We need successful businesses that have benefited from the unique, nurturing, innovation environment in Cambridge to give back. Sharing the wealth, expertise and insights will be really important.

“The fact that we have extreme health inequality with a 12-year difference in life expectancy for women between some wards is unacceptable, particularly so in a city renowned for ground-breaking medical discoveries that have a global impact on health outcomes. We can and must do better.

“As we know, house prices put properties out of reach for some lower income earners while rents are much higher than the national average. Meanwhile, growth of the Cambridge workforce continues to outstrip the supply of new homes.

“These are just some of the issues that we need to tackle and why we need to work together to harness the power of innovation and collective endeavour in Cambridge. We will ensure our voice, and the concerns of residents, are heard by all of our partners.”