Entrepreneurship & innovation at Cambridge

As an Executive MBA student at Cambridge Judge Business School, you will get to know the city of Cambridge. This is a thriving centre of business and innovation, a hub of entrepreneurship and fresh thinking. It is a forward-looking commercial environment and one of the world’s most dynamic places to be doing business.

The Cambridge cluster

The modern Cambridge cluster began in 1960 with the foundation of Cambridge Consultants, formed to “put the brains of Cambridge University at the disposal of industry.”

Cambridge was already home to several well-established engineering firms, like the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, the Pye Group, and Marshall of Cambridge. But it was still viewed by many as a “small country town in the centre of a very large natural green belt.”

However, with the establishment of Cambridge Science Park by Trinity College in 1970, the cluster began to grow rapidly. Thirty-nine new companies were formed between 1960 and 1969. In the 1970s, 137 were formed. By 1990, company formations had reached an average of two per week.

Today, Cambridge is Europe’s largest technology cluster. Around 57,000 people are employed by the more than 1,500 technology-based firms in the area, which have combined annual revenue of over £13 billion.

Entrepreneurial mindsets

Tim Beard, Executive MBA participant, talks about the importance of an entrepreneurial mindset within a large organisation.

My contact while I was applying to Cambridge was a chap called Eben Upton who subsequently has gone on to found a company called Raspberry Pi, a small $25 computer that has caused major stirs around the world in recent weeks. So he’s a very inspirational figure now, who– and I absolutely hope to be able to emulate something along those lines. But that link between technology and business is something that I thought Cambridge could offer me very strongly. And that’s proved to be the case.

An entrepreneurial focus

The programme has a very strong entrepreneurial focus on it. Now, some people question and say, well, why do you need that entrepreneurial approach if you work in a big company? And I work in a reasonably big company. And so how does entrepreneurism fit in? But, I mean, it’s very much a part of life within a big organisation. And one of the things I’ve learned is ways to exploit or to work within the system of a big organisation, to add value through entrepreneurial mechanisms, if you like. Or entrepreneurship if you like.

A lot of new ideas

And one of the courses on fast strategy and entrepreneurship that provided a lot of tools to enable you to keep that kind of mindset that enables you to innovate within organisations and work within that framework. So it’s helped a lot, both within my own company thinking about entrepreneurial ways to push forward with new ideas and also outside as well, it’s opened up a lot of new ideas. And that enabled me to feel like consults with my friends and partner about their businesses and come up with ways to help their businesses as well.

The University’s role in the cluster

The University is a major employer, technology provider, and a source of knowledge and skills in the region. University people and ideas are at the heart of many of the companies in the cluster, whether the company is based on University research (spin-out), or founded by a member of the University (start-up).

The University also contributes to the growth of the cluster by providing solutions to business problems through consultancy activity and through the licensing of discoveries to new and existing companies.

More than 1,000 IP licensing, consultancy and equity contracts are currently under management by Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation group.

Read more about innovation in Cambridge