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16 July, 2019 - 14:27 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge basks in soaring corporate investment

Amazon, Arm and AstraZeneca were among global big hitters to address the 2019 Cambridge Innovation summit where record levels of investment in UK companies was revealed.

Alex McCracken from Silicon Valley Bank, co-sponsor of the event, said it was pleasing to see large corporates collectively discussing their innovation processes and engaging with technology startups in Cambridge.

He said: “Corporates are increasingly partnering with startups, which helps to stimulate the UK ecosystem. From our research in 2018 corporates participated in 42 per cent of equity rounds of £10 million to £200m in UK tech businesses” (data from Pitchbook).”

The Cambridge Innovation Summit, co-sponsored by law firm Taylor Vinters, brought together more than 90 leading thinkers about innovation processes from businesses and other organisations across Europe and the US.

Delegates from all of the consortia run by the Cambridge-based Centre for Business Innovation (CfBI) and invited guests worked together on challenges and opportunities which they are experiencing in the innovation landscape.

The summit included a ‘Curated Startup Matching’ pre-event, organised with St Johns’ Innovation Centre, to introduce inbound corporates to Cambridge startups and scale-ups. There were a number of inside-track sessions. They included one on ‘Global Innovation Processes’ chaired by Philip Guildford of the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering with discussion leaders from Amazon, Brightstar, DSTL and Jaguar Land Rover.

Another addressed ‘Innovation with data’ and was chaired by James Boyle of Taylor Vinters with discussion leaders from Amadeus Partners, Miotify, and HP Labs.

A session on ‘Innovation Made in Cambridge’ – chaired by Haroon Ahmed, retired master of Corpus Christi College – featured cameo presentations from AstraZeneca, Arm and Amazon.

Table-top demonstrations were given by a number of Cambridge-based innovators introduced by McCracken.

The world-class networking opportunity culminated with dinner in Trinity Hall addressed by Peter Cowley, chairman of Cambridge Angels, on the theme of ‘Why Cambridge for Innovation?’

On adjacent days CfBI consortia encompassing ‘Open Innovation Meets Big Data’, ‘Medical Adherence/Digital Health’, ‘Nano-Carbon Enhanced Materials’ and ‘Corporate Venturing Leadership’ met in private sessions in the Cambridge region.

Peter Hewkin, CEO of the Centre for Business Innovation, said: “We are delighted to bring together the members of CfBI’s eight international consortia in Cambridge each year to inspire, inform and engage them in one of the world’s best innovation clusters.”

Planning has already started for the next Cambridge Innovation Summit which will take place on July 1, 2020.

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