…but the Technopole Report helps a little to better understand Cambridge’s innovation system often also called Silicon Fen with today about 1,500 firms employing about 53,000 people.
The report lists numerous relevant actors, such as Cambridge Consultants, Cambridge Science Park (founded in 1970 by Trinity College), St John’s innovation centre (founded by St John’s College in 1987) and financiers such as Hermann Hauser that helped a nearly uncountable number of firms to grow and florish. Not to mention the numerous events and occasions where people meet informally and exchange ideas.
Succesful Cambridge companies include names such as Acorn Computing, Sinclair Research, Aveva, ARM and Autonomy. According to a recent WIRED article Cambridge has produced not less than 12 firms whose market capitalisation exceed $1bn. Probably most prominent is ARM. Founded in 1990, the semiconductor and software design company grew to become a multibillion valued competitor of Intel. Actually, by today its processors quasi dominate the markets for mobile phones, smartphones and tablets.
The University of Cambridge recently announced that it had pulled together partners to set up a £50 million fund called Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) for financing university spin-outs. Despite the impressive investment sum, the interesting aspect of the concept is that the fund intents to support entrepreneurial ventures with a long term return perspective so that young firms can hold the breath long enough to pass the „valley of death“.
I recently learned that three Cambridge graduates (St. John’s) invented the Smoothie and started Innocent in 1999. Well done! Although, the multi-million dollar sale to Coca Cola made the founders rich, it might not give you real credits for being a healthy business.
Last year, the University of Cambridge invested almost £2.3 million in university spinouts. Read more here how the university manages its funding, the available funding vehicles and which firms received the money.
According to the recently released QS World University Rankings 2013 of universities on this planet, the University of Cambridge ranks third behind MIT (#1) and Harvard (#3). Oxford is #6.
The first German university on the list is Heidelberg on #50, followed by TU Munich (#53) and LMU Munich (#65). The University of Hamburg ranks #186 and Kiel University scores #293.
Across Swedish universities, Chalmers is #5 ranking overall #202.
Academic Ranking of World Universities, also known as the „Shanghai Ranking“ released it 2013 ranking listing the University of Cambridge overall on # 5. Cambridge is the first non-American university after Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley and MIT. Among the top 10 universities are only two non-US (Cambridge at # 5, Oxford at # 10). The next non-US university is ETH Zurich at # 20.
Across different fields Cambridge makes it to # 2 in Life and Agriculture Sciences Cambrige. In engineering it is # 14, in medical # 6, and social science # 16. Broken down further by subject, Cambridge ranks # 17 in „Economics / Business“ just after one other non-US university (London School of Economics and Political Science, #13). In Mathematics it is # 4, Physics # 8, Chemistry # 4 and Computer # 38.
Hence, Cambridge makes it to # 1 in the UK, just above Oxford and UCL.
I recently learned that the defacto standard remote access technology, which is used today widely across numerous mobile and smart phone (i.e., in billion devices), but also by software to remotely access desktop computers, whether for private or professional purposes(e.g., software support), such as Teamviewer, was developed by the Cambridge University spin-out RealVNC in 1998. Apparently, the software diffused so widely, because the inventors had chosen an open source approach. RealVNC is probably one of the „most successful Cambridge University spin-outs of all time“.
The European Financial Review was interested to publish a short version of our AoM paper on the impact of PSS innovations on firms‘ innovation behavior. The article emphasis the managerial aspects, being less rigour on the theory behind the argument we develop. Read it yourself here.
CTM colleagues at the IfM running the Digital Fabrication project run this website, where they collect interesting articles relevant for practice, but also bits and pieces about manufacturers, new printing techniques, etc.
Technological Forecasting and Social Change calls for papers for a special issue on „Bit by bit – Capturing value from the digital fabrication revolution“ guest edited by IfM colleagues. Details can be found here. The deadline for submitting an abstract is 31. October.
Yesterday, I visited the MakeSpace in Cambridge. A recently started collaborative fablab made possible with generous funding from ideaSpace, the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), ARM, TTP, Microsoft Research and Cambridge Science Centre.
They got great equipment to build whatever you want, from laser cutter, 3D printer, but also the „old school“ equipment for drilling and milling. I hope this space inspires a lot of people to become creative and innovative.
Fab labs are on the rise. One has recently opened here in Cambridge, named „Makespace„. In Hamburg we have Fabulous St. Pauli since 2011. These are places where users can turn their ideas into prototypes using state-of-the-art 3D-printing, but as well more conventional tools such as CNC or drilling machines. A recent brand eins article dealt with the phenomenon, particularly in the context of sharing knowledge, resources and just forming local communities. Several examples exist. Visit also the website of the International Fab Lab Association for more information and several examples. According to the article, the first fab lab in Germany was the „Münchner Haus der Eigenarbeit“ founded already in 1987.
Excellent short interview with my current colleague here at IfM, Prof. Andy Neely. Interviewed by the Financial Times he talks about three reasons why firms servitize (strategic, economic, environment), accompanied risks and firm implications (e.g., big data). Watch here.
Since two weeks I am now visiting the Centre for Technology Management at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) at the University of Cambridge.
It has been an absolute wonderful start here in the UK and it seems that it can be a quite productive and creative summer. Looking forward to many inspiring discussions!