This week we hosted a couple of meetings debating how government policy needs to change to create more UK high tech businesses like those who have had such impact here in Cambridge.
The first meeting was a gathering of our Entrepreneurship SIG to hear from Hermann Hauser on his recommendations to the government on the creation of technology commercialisation centres like the German Fraunhofer Institute. As Hermann joked, since Prince Albert brought us the doctoral degree in the 19th Century the UK has regularly benchmarked it's innovation system against Germany and always found that there is more to learn. Multiple regional initiatives have fragmented resources: he cited the 24 nanoscience centres currently being funded around the UK. He recommends concentrating support around a few technology sectors (e.g. regenerative medicine, organic electronics) where the UK has clear leadership and locating a small number of centres near the academic groups driving those fields. Many local organizations had turned out to contribute, including Acacia Capital, AlertMe, Cambridge Consultants, Cognovo, Ernst & Young, Pathology Diagnostics, Pneumacare, Polysolar, Samsung, Sensory Design, Lloyds TSB, Unilever, University of Cambridge, amongst others.
The second meeting was an informal session with Julian Huppert, our local MP, to discuss how policies should change to encourage entrepreneurs to start and build technology companies here. This was a small gathering because we only had a couple of days notice, but the issues raised around how to attract great start-ups and also retain fast-growth businesses clearly need more airing, so we'll be running a further session in July to allow Members to share their insights.
Both sessions had a high proportion of MBA students because we ran them in collaboration with the Judge Business School. We also had students visiting from Laurea in Finland. It was good to hear them contributing strongly to the debate - including those pointing out that most of their peers were finding better opportunities elsewhere and would not be staying to help build our region. Clearly there is more to do if we want Cambridge ideas to change the world from here.