Innovation Fellowships

The Cambridge cluster, based around the University, the city's rich ecosystem of hi-tech and biotech companies, and entrepreneurial flair, is the most successful technology cluster in Europe.

With more than 1,500 tech-based firms employing 57,000 people, and a combined annual turnover of more than £13 billion, the cluster is a rich source of innovation, growth and employment – and can offer many insights to entrepreneurs from the UK, Europe and worldwide.

Through Cambridge Enterprise and the Centre for Science and Policy, the University is creating a network of international business leaders in order to build enduring connections between entrepreneurs, major corporate decision-makers and researchers, and to support knowledge exchange around innovation.

Modelled on the University’s highly successful Policy Fellowships Programme, the Cambridge Innovation Fellowships will enable CEOs and other senior executives of leading businesses to explore the processes that connect ideas to output. Fellows will meet and interact with practitioners and academics (and those who are both); they will take back to their companies new insights, fresh perspectives, and enduring links with Europe’s leading innovation ecosystem.

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How it works

The starting point is a blank sheet of paper where Fellows write down the questions they face in their personal businesses about innovation.

Cambridge Enterprise then connects each Fellow with investors and entrepreneurs and researchers whose theories can help answer those questions. Through an intense series of one-to-one meetings, organised over five days in Cambridge, the Fellows explore challenging and often unexpected perspectives, and discover the connections that will become the basis for ongoing investigation over the two years of their Fellowships.

What each Fellow does over those two years is very much down to his or her needs and approach. Experience in the Policy Fellowships Programme suggests that some will want to return to Cambridge to convene expert workshops exploring key issues in depth; others will secure the greatest benefit from broadening their networks in the Cambridge cluster, or from bringing practitioners and researchers into their organisations to consult and advise. Many will also want to take up the opportunity to give lectures and lead seminars in Cambridge, closing the loop with the future generation of entrepreneurs.


Innovation Fellowships offer a number of benefits to executives interested in engaging with the University and the cluster.

Benefits of the programme include:

  • advice and guidance to enable you to ‘navigate the network’ and open the relevant doors around Cambridge and in the University
  • ongoing membership of a network of thought-leaders addressing common issues, and the chance to build your personal network
  • direct connections to leading researchers in the areas of innovation, entrepreneurship, and business growth, and to those who have successfully put research into practice
  • the ability to shape the knowledge-exchange with those you meet around your specific questions and concerns
  • ongoing support to convene workshops and other discussions within the network over a two-year period
  • opportunities for your company to commission consulting or joint research in the University, or to gain profile through association with University events
  • time and space to think in an intellectually stimulating environment – returning you to your day-job with new ways of tackling the key challenges you face.


The one-off fee of £9,000 – plus expenses for local travel and accommodation – covers all the costs for the meetings in the University and the Cambridge cluster. It also gives access to networking events and seminars run by Cambridge Enterprise, the Centre for Science and Policy, and other relevant organisations over the two-year period.

How to apply

Up to 12 new Innovation Fellows will be elected each year (four each term), each for a period of two years. If you would like to apply to be an Innovation Fellow, please email us with a brief biography, a summary of the questions that you would want to address, and a note of support from your organisation.

Image: Whipple Museum Ptolemaic armillary sphere, courtesy of the University of Cambridge, all rights reserved.