The Cambridge Cluster, a group of Cambridge-based advanced technology and bioscience companies, has enjoyed remarkable success and international recognition over the past fifty years as a centre of creativity and commercial innovation. Today, Cambridge is Europe’s largest technology cluster. Around 57,000 people are employed by the 1,500 technology-based firms in the area, which have combined annual revenues of over £13 billion. The cluster is the birthplace of companies such Arm Holdings, a company that designs the chips found in more than 95per cent of smartphones in the world.
This success is known as the Cambridge Phenomenon, a term coined by the Financial Times in 1980 when the newspaper reported that the technology being produced would be “vital to Britain’s basic prosperity and to the continuing ability to contribute on an international level”.
The Cambridge Phenomenon would not be possible without the world-leading, innovative research conducted at the University of Cambridge, nor without the young people trained in the seminar rooms and laboratories of its science and technology Departments. Crucially, it is the porous nature of the Cambridge environment – through which the University and commercial enterprise allow a vibrant two-way flow of ideas and talent – which makes it unique. Defined by its spirit of innovation and a freedom to pursue promising opportunities, the Cambridge Phenomenon reflects the University’s pioneering and welcoming approach to industrial enterprise.
The commercialisation of research is supported by Cambridge Enterprise, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University, and by several commercial venture capital companies which work with members of the University at all stages of the commercialisation process. More recently, the University has been active in promoting a constant exchange of ideas with companies in and around Cambridge, through initiatives such as the Maxwell Centre at the Cavendish Laboratory – the centrepiece for industrial engagement on the West Cambridge Science and Technology campus.
However, the highly competitive international landscape of high-tech research and businesses continually evolves. Models of industry/academic collaboration must keep pace in order to capitalise swiftly and effectively on opportunities as they arise. This agility is the cornerstone of success in a fastchanging environment. A paradigm shift is required in the way that fundamental research is commissioned and translated into commercially successful solutions for the benefit of the economy and society at large.
This presents the opportunity for the Gianna Angelopoulos Programme to take a holistic approach to identifying societal and industrial needs, conducting research to address these needs, and, in collaboration with University-based or commercial enterprise units, paving the way to commercialisation. In doing so, the Programme will produce its own cadre of highly skilled scientists through integrated doctoral training and the continuous professional development of postdoctoral researchers.