The Cambridge Enterprise Annual Review 2023 reveals another successful year as the University of Cambridge’s innovation arm.

Helping Cambridge research make a significant contribution to the world

£21.7 m distributed to the University and its departments
301 patent applications filed
170 commercial and research licences signed
441 consultancy agreements signed
21 investments in new companies and our portfolio

Accelerating impact

Supporting University academics, researchers and innovators in the translation of Cambridge research to achieve social and economic impact, we have seen both growth in our existing areas and the introduction of new initiatives to further enhance the support available to University innovation.

  • Founders at the University of Cambridge was launched in November to support new founders and to help new companies scale rapidly by connecting them to capital, mentoring and an acceleration programme. We welcomed the first cohort of the 12 week Founders Start programme in February, during which each team will receive non-dilutive seed funding from a pool of up to £2 million, which includes funding from the University of Cambridge and our Investment Partner, Parkwalk Advisors.
  • With the University Enterprise Network members, we founded IE Cambridge to bring together the University’s innovation and entrepreneurship activities under one umbrella to simplify navigation of this rich ecosystem of support. For further support, ideaSpace West now has a newly renovated home at the Hauser Forum to continue to house the early-stage venture community in Cambridge as it grows.
  • The newly-launched Technology Investment Fund (TIF) has £10 million translational funding approved for investment over the next 5 years, enabling our academic entrepreneurs to quickly advance their technologies with critical proof-of-concept funding. An additional £7.9 million translational funding was won with our support last year.
  • Consultancy continues to be a critical way to generate immediate impact at scale, with another exceptional year in which £10.7 million revenue was generated from consultancy activity, supporting 325 consultants across 441 agreements.
  • Research tools licensing saw a significant increase in activity, with over £1 million revenue generated last year for the first time and the launch of  a dedicated online licensing platform to enable easier access to and management of these tools.
  • Technology development and licensing activities generated revenues of £12.6 million, invested £1.3 million in patents and proof of concept, and filed 301 patent applications.
  • Over £5.5 million was invested on behalf of the University across 21 businesses during the period, bringing the total invested over the lifetime of the fund to over £43 million, with portfolio companies going on to raise £3.7 billion in follow-on funding.

The Technology Investment Fund will provide a funding mechanism to complete those final critical experiments or market assessments to accelerate the commercialisation of University research and deliver life-changing impact and enhanced economic return.

Dr Tom Mentlak, Head of Technology Investment Fund

The Research Tools licensing model is a powerful offering from Cambridge Enterprise, providing a unique way for academics to commercialise tools created as part of their research.

Dr Siân Fogden, Commercialisation Manager, Research Tools

As one of the most intensive innovation clusters in the world, Founders at the University of Cambridge begins its journey standing on the shoulders of giants. Our vision is to take the solid foundations offered by the University and the Cambridge innovation ecosystem and be the catalyst that drives it to new heights.

Gerard Grech, Managing Director, Founders at the University of Cambridge

At its core, consultancy is a cross-pollinator of innovation and impact. It not only transcends disciplinary boundaries within universities but also helps worlds collide, spreading and sharing ideas, expertise and knowledge between academia, industry and other actors.

Dr Amanda Zeffman, Head of Consultancy Services and Research Tools

Cambridge Enterprise is striving to simplify the navigation of the Cambridge ecosystem with the aim to increase the number of high-quality start-ups and spin-outs emerging.

Caroline Hyde, Head of Ecosystem Initiatives and Partnerships

…in Cambridge and beyond

In partnership with Cambridge Innovation Capital and the University of Cambridge, we continued the conversation on innovation across the Greater Cambridge area, to develop an innovation roadmap for Cambridge for the next decade and to inspire collaboration and action to take Cambridge to the next level of ambition. In October 2023, the Innovate Cambridge strategy was unveiled at an innovation summit with over 400 leaders in attendance, underpinned by a partnership with over 140 organisations, including industry giants like AstraZeneca and Microsoft.

Night shot above Cambridge with the city light up below a purple sky.

Our collaborative efforts extend far beyond our city too. Cambridge Enterprise is committed to partnering with our peers to improve how Universities support innovation and commercialise research. This is best exemplified by our role as a founder and the host of TenU. A great example of a TenU collaboration is the University Spin-out Investment Terms (USIT) Guide. The USIT Guide heavily fed into the Independent Spin-out Review, conducted on behalf of the UK Government, published in November 2023. The review’s recommendations were accepted in full by UK Government, and widely welcomed by many leading organisations in the sector. The USIT Guide is now being actively used as a tool across three continents to support research commercialisation.

Cambridge Enterprise remains ambitious for what we can do to unlock the University and the ecosystem to reach its potential. We are an innovation engine for Cambridge and will work to ensure our researchers can act with the talent, capital, partnerships and entrepreneurial spirit they need to succeed.

Dr Diarmuid O'Brien, Chief Executive, Cambridge Enterprise

This year Cambridge Enterprise has continued to demonstrate the significance of its role in commercialising University of Cambridge research, returning £22 million to the University and introducing new vehicles to support and accelerate innovation activity. The impact of Cambridge, its initiatives and its portfolio is felt locally, nationally and globally.

Ajay Chowdhury, Chair, Cambridge Enterprise

Stories that tell themselves

Throughout this year’s Annual Review, we have featured the stories of five of our portfolio companies to give you a sense of the impact that has been achieved in the past year.

  • Nu Quantum is paving the way for scalable quantum computing, having secured a £8.2m pre-Series A round in November 2023 and with £8m in booked revenue-bearing R&D contracts including the Cisco LYRA project.
  • Aspuna, one of the first recipients of a Cambridge Enterprise Social Pathfinder, is empowering rural communities with the processing capabilities that allow them to effectively exploit their own resources and has generated over 2000 jobs.
  • Concr, where astrophysics technology is applied to predict therapeutic response in cancer, gained further support with a £1.94m Seed round co-led by our Ventures team alongside R42 Group, and have since secured a £0.8m non-dilutive Innovate UK grant for clinical validation of it’s novel approach.
  • T-Therapeutics is harnessing the power of natural T cells, supported by a £48m Series A funding Nov 2023. We’re proud to have been involved from academic research through to commercial reality with over 300 items of licensed IP from the past 10+ years of research carried out at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge.
  • Earthshot Prize finalist, Colorifix could reduce chemical pollution by the textile industry by 80%, and the retail industry backed this technology with a £1m Series B in 2022 led by H&M’s corporate venturing arm.

Find out more about the impact that was achieved in 2023 by reading these stories and so much more in the Annual Review.

Annual Review 2023

Read our Annual Review 2023