Impact story: Innovate Cambridge

Cambridge is the home of the UK’s most successful innovation ecosystem, Europe’s largest technology cluster and the birthplace of 23 unicorns, three of which were formed during the last three years. Central to this ecosystem is the University of Cambridge, whose contribution to the UK economy in 2021-22 alone was four times that of the Premier League, at almost £30 billion. Among all of the regions around the country, Cambridge is the best-placed and has the greatest potential to be the UK’s globally leading innovation ecosystem.


Globally, significant planning and investment are being made in university innovation ecosystems to ensure their future success, and there is danger that Cambridge and the UK may fall behind without a clear plan of action and proactive intervention. Cambridge Enterprise, along with Cambridge Innovation Capital and the University of Cambridge, is leading an initiative to create an innovation vision for the Greater Cambridge area.

Launch of Innovate Cambridge

Launched at the first Innovate Cambridge Summit in September 2022, Innovate Cambridge is creating an inclusive vision for the future of Greater Cambridge and its innovation ecosystem that will be implemented over the next decade. To date, over 150 organisations, including corporate leaders such as ARM, Microsoft and AstraZeneca, local government, start-ups, universities, science parks and investors, have backed an innovation charter, pledging their commitment to support, promote and enhance innovation in the Greater Cambridge ecosystem.

Innovate Cambridge is both forward-looking and ambitious. It is challenging the ecosystem to reflect on where we are and where we need to be to remain leading. It has built a coalition of organisations that share a similar innovation ambition for Cambridge, both social and economic, and are prepared to act to support the development of the area. Innovate Cambridge has the potential to both influence and inform innovation policy at a local and a national level. It will build a forward-looking proposition that will attract talent, funding – both research and investment capital – and globally leading innovation actors to Cambridge.

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Innovate Cambridge


Innovate Cambridge is chaired by the Rt. Hon. Lord David Willetts, former Minister for Universities and Science and former Treasury official, has a Steering Committee that brings together innovation leaders from across the ecosystem. A second Innovation Summit is organised for October 2023 at which the vision for the next period of Cambridge’s innovation growth will be launched. Cambridge Enterprise is committed to leading the discussion on how to ensure the long term future competitiveness of our ecosystem.

Innovate Cambridge is successfully bringing together the Greater Cambridge ecosystem and shaping a forward-looking ambition of what Cambridge can deliver for itself, the UK and the world.

The Rt. Hon. Lord David Willetts FRS, Chair, Innovate Cambridge

Annual Review 2022

This impact story was first published in the Cambridge Enterprise Annual Review 2022.

View our Annual Review 2022 to learn more about some of the exciting breakthroughs and innovations that we have been part of during 2021-2022.