A new generation of ‘Cambridge greats’ was unveiled at Business Weekly’s Awards presentation dinner at Queens’ College.The winning line-up showed that behind the ‘A’ list of former and current greats – principally Acorn, Acambis, ARM, Autonomy and Abcam – there is a thrusting phalanx of young technology Turks determined to build on Cambridge’s innovation legacy.
Walking over the metaphorical bridge that links the original Cambridge Phenomenon with FutureWorld were world leaders in personalised medicines and pioneering antibodies research; a trailblazer in solar technology; a groundbreaking play in wireless whitespace; a cloud computing specialist saving the public sector tens of millions; a global market leader in digital radio technology; and a startup company about to roar out of stealth with IT security software that Hermann Hauser believes could be massive.
Showing them all the way was tech design hothouse, Cambridge Consultants, which was appropriately awarded an inaugural and in all probability one-off Cambridge Greats Award for underpinning so many technology areas.
In Olympic year, the flame of Cambridge UK inspiration was passed to Business of the Year, Horizon Discovery; international trade champion Sepura, antibodies ace Kymab, software companies Bromium and Arcus Global, solar technology pioneer Eight19 and wireless wizards Neul.
Hermann Hauser, the co-founder of Acorn Computers, believes Bromium could be a future Business of the Year and believes Cambridge’s technology future is in safe hands.
He said after the awards presentation: “Cambridge is in great shape. The new generation is coming along well with more investment and more help from serial entrepreneurs acting as mentors. When we started Acorn there was no VC money around and no available knowledge on how to do a hi-tech company.
“Now we have a wonderful infrastructure in place to help young companies grow. The environment is there to create more commercial success stories – better now than at any time I have known.”
The infrastructure to encourage startups certainly improved when CambridgeElevator.com – a social networking site for startups – was founded last November. It has gained remarkable global traction in a short space of time and judging is reaching a climax in the inaugural £15k KickStart competition with which the venture was launched, Business Weekly chief executive, Tony Quested told around 230 Awards dinner guests.
He said: “Our idea in backing Cambridge Elevator and its CEO, Richard Kirkby, is to pass the baton from the world-class companies we have to the startups who aspire and support them on the journey to commercial success. Maintaining continuity through vigorous corporate venturing will determine whether the innovation and commercial success of this region in a fiercely competitive international arena can be sustained. It’s a challenge we have to rise to as a collective.”
Sustainability of a more serious nature was also on the dinner menu. Guest speaker Dr Aled Jones, of Anglia Ruskin University, who advises governments and corporates on global sustainability issues, told executives that the buck for better management of the planet’s vital resources stopped with business. Every single business had to buy into
the vision if real inroads were to be made on reducing the carbon footprint of industry and infrastructure, he said.
Thanks to two fabulous prizes donated by Stena Line and CI Travel Group, the charity draw in aid of Wallace Cancer Care raised £2,000 in desperately needed funds. Quested urged guests to dig deep. He said the charity ran two Cambridge centres and over 20 innovative programmes to deal with the aftermath of cancer - the psychological and emotional problems that followed diagnosis; how sufferers and their families coped with both the stress and the side-effects of treatment.
In its first year the inaugural centre at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital site in Cambridge had less than 1500 visits - now the charity copes with well over 10,000 every year - “and surprise, surprise, it receives no financial support from the NHS or any other public body,” Quested said.
• Photographs by Alan Bennett, Media Imaging Solutions http://www.mediaimagingsolutions.com