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Why Cambridge is a start-up city

last modified Mar 24, 2014 03:30 PM
'Why have so many tech firms originated in Cambridge?' is the question posed by the BBC in a feature on the city's success - and Stew McTavish and three ideaSpace members are helping provide the answers.


In a feature on the BBC website entitled Next Silicon Valleys: Why Cambridge is a start-up city, business reporter Katie Hope explores the reasons why so many tech firms have originated from Silicon Fen.

Explaining the role of ideaSpace in helping tech firms to get established, director Stew McTavish says: "What we're really trying to do is provide a focal point for the start-up community to gather in one place to increase the chances of serendipitous interaction."

He believes that the university's academic freedom helps commercially. "They're permitted to experiment and if they fail that's fine as well as long as they do it in the right sorts of ways."

Aqdot, based at ideaSpace City, was founded in 2010 and has created a "shrink wrap" technology which can encapsulate tiny droplets of active ingredients to be released precisely when needed.

"When you bring academia and industry together that's when you create exciting opportunities," says co-founder and chief scientific officer Dr Roger Coulston.

Damian Gardiner, co-founder of University of Cambridge spinout Ilumink, based at ideaSpace West, said he has benefited from his connection to the university. He received an enterprise scholarship from the Royal Academy of Engineering to help him develop his research in printable laser technology into a commercial product aimed at fighting fraud.

He says: "I wanted to see how technology could be taken from the lab and actually used in a real world, a product that would be useful to people."

Also featured in the BBC article is Cambridge Nanosystems, based at the West site, which has developed a machine to convert gas waste, such as methane or carbon dioxide, into different types of carbon including graphene.

Less than two years ago, Dr Krzysztof Koziol, a director of the firm, was a full-time academic - now he is juggling the start-up alongside his role as head of the electric carbon nanomaterials group at the university's Department of Material Science.

The feature article is based on a series of television interviews for the BBC's Next Silicon Valley series. To read the full article visit here.

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