Major conference highlights Cambridge innovation

Innovative British companies, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, together with the elite of US venture fund managers and investors, visited the University of Cambridge on Monday (30 July), at a major conference to promote investment in Britain’s high tech sectors.

The US/UK Financing Innovation conference opened Monday, aiming to highlight the quality of British companies, the UK research base and encourage financial backers to get behind small and medium sized firms.

As part of the conference, delegates visited Cambridge to learn more about the innovation activity taking place at the University and throughout the Cambridge Cluster.

By encouraging closer links between US and UK venture capital sectors, and showing the potential that exists in innovative British companies, we can turn UK high-growth and innovative SMEs into world-leading businesses.

David Willetts

Cambridge is Europe’s most productive technology cluster, having produced ten companies valued at more than $1 billion, and two (ARM and Autonomy) valued at more than $10 billion. The vast majority of the more than 1,500 companies in the cluster are connected to the University in some way: they are either based directly on University research, are founded or staffed by Cambridge graduates, or work collaboratively with University researchers to find solutions to business problems.

“The University creates a highly educated workforce with excellent problem-solving abilities, and that’s why we choose to do business here,” said Warren East, Chief Executive of ARM.

Many of Cambridge’s young companies and established success stories took part in yesterday’s visit, including ARM, Cambridge Temperature Concepts, Horizon Discovery, Ubisense, BlueGnome, RealVNC and Raspberry Pi. Speakers included Professor Lynn Gladden, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Christoph Loch, Director of the Judge Business School and Professor Andy Hopper, Head of the Computer Laboratory.

The conference is also an opportunity for discussions to take place between the US and the EU’s biggest capital markets on the future of venture capital and how to deliver good returns for investors and support high growth businesses during challenging economic times.

Closer links between UK and US venture capital communities were discussed by President Obama and the Prime Minister during the President’s state visit to the UK in May 2011, and the conference is the first sign of this closer collaboration.

“The UK has a world-wide reputation for innovation, invention, research and development. It’s one of our biggest strengths and one of the biggest drivers of growth,” said Universities and Science Minister David Willetts. “But our companies need finance from the best international investors if they are to develop into truly global businesses. By encouraging closer links between US and UK venture capital sectors, and showing the potential that exists in innovative British companies, we can turn UK high-growth and innovative SMEs into world-leading businesses.”

The UK / US Financing Innovation conference is led by BIS and UKTI with sponsorship from ARM holdings and the Silicon Valley Bank, and the close involvement of other key organisations: The British Venture Capital Association and the US National Venture Capital Association, NESTA, Technology Strategy Board, Capital for Enterprise, the Tech City Investment Organisation, the Royal Society and the University of Cambridge.

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