Cambridge has long been admired for its world-class university and medieval architecture. However, as one of the country’s fastest growing economies, the city is far from historic when it comes to technology. It has recently been named the UK's top hotspot for inventors, with the Intellectual Property Office recording as many as 284 patents last year (more than five a week), 19 per cent above Coventry, the second highest ranked city.
This is not necessarily new. Cambridge has always been known as a hub for global tech, Research & Development and pharmaceutical companies. However, while this was once largely confined to the business parks of the north and south, there has recently, been a distinct shift towards the city centre. Already home to giants such as Microsoft and Apple, the area has seen a number of new tech occupiers following their lead. Bateman House on Hills Road, for example, has welcomed five new tech companies in the last 12 months alone, including Genestack, Docker, Electric Imp, Malin Life Sciences and Intrasonics.
Once start-ups, these successful businesses have outgrown the serviced offices and incubator space found on the innovation parks and university campuses and have instead moved into bigger and more central premises. What’s clear is that rent is no longer the most important consideration, instead occupiers are looking for the best accommodation in the best location.
As Savills Tech Cities report suggests, for places like Cambridge it is all about attracting human capital and building a brand that enables ambitious Millennials to have a tech career equal to or even more successful than they could in the capital. Home to one of the top universities in the world, the city needs to be able to retain its graduates and hold on to home grown talent to ensure that the sector continues to thrive. Essentially, why go work in Shoreditch, when you can work in a vibrant city centre such as Cambridge, which offers great amenity, strong transport links and, most importantly, punting?
While it remains business as usual on the parks, this new city centre cluster continues to pack a punch when it comes to innovation. As new start-ups continue to emerge from parent companies and the university every day, it’s showing no signs of stopping.
Read more: Savills Spotlight – Cambridge Cross Sector