What are the opportunities and challenges for digital tech founders in Cambridge?

Kane Fulton, May 1, 2019 2 min read

What does Cambridge have to offer ambitious digital tech entrepreneurs? We asked the following stakeholders and business leaders to find out. For granular data on Cambridge’s digital tech ecosystem – including its companies (and founders), accelerators, and workspaces – see Data Commons.

James Parton, MD, The Bradfield Centre, says:

For me, opportunities in Cambridge lie in strengthening collaboration. That applies at the city level, in encouraging the overlap in sectors like data science and biotech (for example). At a regional and national level there are initiatives like the Cambridge–Milton Keynes–Oxford Arc and the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor, internationally demonstrated by the growing Cambridge relationship with China.

When you have a truly world-class University in your city, talent is theoretically on your doorstep. However, the reality is that local startups and scaleups are in head-to-head competition with the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook and other blue-chip organisations. We are trying to do our own small part to encourage entrepreneurial avenues as an alternative. Alongside the people problem, to avoid companies outgrowing the area as they scale, more work needs to be done around the cost of living and local transport infrastructure to support a commuter workforce.

Dr Nigel Pitchford, CEO, Ieso Digital Health, says:

The Cambridge ecosystem is unique. We are surrounded by the university, the great hospitals, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, as well as digital health and biotechnology companies, all working together towards a common goal of improving patient outcomes.

In the UK, Ieso is looking to strengthen its partnership with the NHS as it continues to deliver world-leading treatment for mental illness. In the US, we are working with a number of leading healthcare providers to improve access to treatment. Beyond the US, we are exploring how we can use our technology to improve access to mental healthcare for those markets that are less developed than the UK.

Joe Parry, founder and CEO, Cambridge Intelligence, says:

Cambridge produces strong engineers and has a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem of founders & suppliers. And the work/life balance is great, with people having only a short bicycle ride between work and home. Although our HQ is in Cambridge and employs 40 people, we also have four staff in North America. We are a UK export success: the US is our largest single market with 50% of our total revenue – and we have customers in 30 other countries.

East of England