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Entrepreneurship at Cambridge University

At the end of last year, published a list of the Top University Startup Communities. Cambridge University came in 3rd, right after Stanford (Silicon Valley) and MIT (Boston). Oxford University came in 6th. Here is how YouNoodle came up with the ranking:

YouNoodle has designed an algorithm to calculate each university’s significance as a startup community. Significance is determined by factors including the number and quality of the startups in the university, activity of its groups, business plan competitions, availability of talent and investment in the area, and the success of past startups.

I’m not surprised that Cambridge ranks just behind Silicon Valley and Boston. While this list focuses on University startup communities, I believe that Cambridge is an incredible place to be for entrepreneurship no matter the criteria. I’m sure Charlie would say that something from New York should be on the list (and I would agree), I think it’s both fair and correct that Cambridge is ranked as one of the top startup communities in the world.

Silicon Valley and Boston are clearly in a class by themselves based on the sheer size of the communities there. But Cambridge is a hidden gem. You must recognize that the startups coming out of Cambridge are only rarely the consumer-focused, trendy companies. What gets funded here tends to be hard science, technology, microchips, sensors, biotech, and the like. If you’re reading this blog, I guarantee you that technology invented here is within a few feet of you right now… virtually all mobile phones use ARM chips, for example. Recent successful startup founders I’ve met have developed sensors for chemical detection (and have received a multi-million dollar contract from the US military), and a wearable sensor to help women accurately track their body temperature and fertility cycle to help them get pregnant.

To put numbers on it, nearly 10% of all venture investment in Europe was in Cambridge. What do we have here:

  • One of the world’s best Universities, with significant science and technology focus
  • St. John’s Innovation Centre, a fantastic incubator for nascent businesses. Mailboxes, virtual offices, general offices, and services for growing businesses.
  • Cambridge University Entrepreneurs, which provide workshops for entrepreneurs and hold a series of business plan contests each year.
  • Very experienced venture capitalists, such as Amadeus Capital.
  • CUTEC (Cambridge University Technology and Entrepreneurship Club), which hosts a large conference in May of each year, as well as smaller events and networking sessions throughout the year.
  • A VERY large angel funding network, the most prominent of which is the Cambridge Angels. Many of these angels are very available to students and local entrepreneurs, and they tend to be very active in and around Cambridge.
  • Center for Entrepreneurial Learning, which hosts events like the famed Enterprise Tuesday sessions, as well as a full programme of other events.

So I’m very happy I’m here in Cambridge as I work on my plans. If you’re starting anything in the science or technology fields in Europe, Cambridge is one of the best places to be.